Barrow, Alaska in darkness on Monday

On Friday, the sun set for the final time in Barrow, Alaska, as the city plunges into polar darkness for the next two months and, in December, formally changes its name to Utqiaġvik, according to Alaska Dispatch News.

The next dawn in Utqiaġvik will be January 22, 2017, the first sunlight under its new name, an Inupiaq word that the wider area of Barrow has long gone by. The city of around 4,300 was incorporated in 1958 and originally took its name from nearby Point Barrow, named by a Royal Navy officer in 1825.

The city is the northernmost in the U.S. and each year spends a couple of months in darkness, owing to its position hundreds of miles north of the Arctic Circle, and about 2,000 miles northwest of Seattle.

Residents recently voted to permanently change the town’s name to honor indigenous peoples and the area’s roots. Locals seem relaxed about Barrow’s final sunset. As ADN reports, the sun “was nowhere to be seen” on Friday, and Qaiyaan Harcharek, a Barrow City Council member who led the drive to change the name, said the event didn’t have much of an effect on him.  “I didn’t put much thought to it,” Harcharek told ADN.

“hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”

-desmond tutu

credits: alaska dispatch news, erik shilling, university of alaska- fairbanks, atlas obscura

42 responses »

  1. the light and dark of it. It is nice if you can handle it but I will stick with things that work best for me. But it is nice to know that the will have a new name and maybe a new outlook as well. Happy Thanksgiving Beth I look forward every day to a post from you because I know it will be something I have never thought of before. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My brother, who has lived all his adult life in Boulder, CO, once moved to Alaska to teach. He lived a bit south of Anchorage, more than 700 miles south of Barrow. He lasted up there a year. As he put it, once a Sunbelt baby, always a Sunbelt baby.

    Liked by 1 person

    • wow, i’m sure it takes a certain kind of person with a strong will and a love of the place and all that goes with it. it would be such a huge challenge coming from most anywhere else –


  3. Since I’m always drawn to light, I don’t know how I would take to living in darkness, although I often think of disappearing to a place like Iceland. I like to think slivers of light appear when we most need to see a clear path. So your quote is just about perfect
    Desmond Tutu has a such a great aura about him doesn’t he?

    Liked by 1 person

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