Represented on the NANA Regional Corporation Board of Directors by Nellie Sheldon and Gladys Jones

Ambler is located 129.3 air miles from Kotzebue, latitude 67° 5' 9", longitude 157° 51' 5,” and is a 45 minute flight from Kotzebue, where it is snugged against the north bank of the Kobuk River, and 45 miles above the Arctic Circle. The Onion Portage archaeological site is 12 air miles west of Ambler, and the Kobuk Valley National Park’s Great Kobuk, Little Kobuk and Hunt River Sand Dunes are 22 to 28.8 air miles away.

Ambler, or Ivisaappaat, is the newest community in the region, founded in 1957-58, when people from Kobuk and Shungnak moved downriver, seeking fish and game resources. A United States Post Office opened in 1963, and the city was incorporated with the State of Alaska in 1971, the same year of the passage of the Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act.

Images-Villages-Ambler2 copy.jpgTHE PEOPLE
Ambler is populated by 259 people, primarily Kuuvangmiut Iñupiat. Like people of the other villages of the NANA Region, the Kuuvangmiut participate in twenty-first century life as indigenous people, rooted to, and living on, the lands of their ancestors. Hunting, fishing and gathering (roots such as masu) are crucial to the nutritional, cultural and economic life of Ambler’s residents.

Ambler is a second class city, incorporated with State of Alaska in 1971, and within the boundaries of the Northwest Arctic Borough municipal government (founded 1986). The tribal government restructured by the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 is called the Native Village of Ambler.

Ambler, on the Kobuk River, is in a transitional zone between wooded areas and tundra areas. The winters are long and cold, and the summers relatively warm (compared to area villages). Average summertime temperatures range from 48-64, with a recorded high in the 90s. Average winter temperatures are around zero, with record highs in the 20s and record lows dipping below minus 60.

The primary mode of transportation to Ambler is airplane. There are currently no permanent, all-season roads linking Ambler to other area communities.

Air – Public general aviation airport with two perpendicular gravel-surfaced runways, located a mile outside of town. Ambler Airport (AFM) is one of 256 airports owned and maintained by State of Alaska DOT&PF, the largest aviation system in North America.

A local air service, Ambler Air, has flights to Fairbanks, which are $250 each way.

Era Alaska and Bering Air provide regularly scheduled passenger service to Ambler; a 30 day advance round trip fare between Ambler and Kotzebue with Era Alaska costs approximately $400.00 (fees and taxes included) and a 30 day advance round trip fare between Ambler and Kotzebue with Bering Air costs approximately $504.00 (fees and taxes included).

Air cargo rates from Kotzebue to Ambler with Bering Air, Era Alaska or Ryan Air range from $1.25 per pound for major loads (in excess of 5,000 pounds) to $1.45 per pound for loads weighing less than 500 pounds.

Land – Ambler is not connected to other communities by road. In winter, trails are marked for intra-regional snowmobile travel. All-terrain vehicles are used throughout the year. Village roads do extend a short way, providing access to the airport and sanitary landfill.

Water/Marine – The Kobuk River near Ambler is typically navigable between July and October.

Water and Sewer – Ambler’s water supply comes from a 167’ well and is treated at the local water treatment facility, then stored in a 210,000 gallon tank before being piped throughout the village. Over 85% of the 136 village households are on the water and sewer system; outhouses and honeybuckets are used in those that are not. A sewage lagoon collects waste, where it is discharged to a natural watershed, and then to the Kobuk River.

Solid Waste Disposal – A small, non-permitted sanitary landfill serves the solid waste needs of the City of Ambler

Public Safety – Ambler is within the service area of the Division of Alaska State Troopers stationed in Kotzebue, and local village public safety officers are first responders. When necessary, Ambler Search & Rescue is mobilized, and a volunteer fire battalion responds to fire emergencies.

Health Services – Maniilaq Association’s Community Health Aide/Practitioner program (CHAP) operates a village health clinic in Ambler. The Maniilaq Health Center, in Kotzebue, is the nearest hospital, and serves as the medical hub for the region’s clinics. Telemedicine also connects the Ambler clinic to medical personnel in Anchorage, at the Alaska Native Medical Center, run by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

Electricity – The Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC) provides electrical power to Ambler via 982 kilowatt capacity diesel generators.

Winter 2012 rates

Residential and small commercial

Larger users

.0.2189¢/kwh to .0.6186¢/kwh*


*Power Cost Equalization (PCE) helps offset costs to residential users-rates shown here do not include PCE.

Telecommunications – Kotzebue-based OTZ Telephone Cooperative provides a variety of landline, cellular phone and wireless Internet services to Ambler residents and businesses. Internet service is provided through, a cooperative effort between OTZ, Maniilaq Association and Anchorage-based GCI Communications.

GCI also has cellular phone service available in Ambler.

Telephone service Residential Business
Basic local service (single landline)  - Includes taxes, fees. Additional charges for optional features Access Line/Residential: $16.55
Federally Mandated Per Access Line: $6.50
Inside Wire Charge: $1.60
Universal Single Line: $0.01
Federal Tax: 3%
Business Phone (Access) Line: $24.50
Federally Mandated Per Access Line: $9.20
Inside Wire Charge: $2.25
Universal Single Line: $0.20
Local Tax: 6%
Federal Tax: 3%
Long distance $.07/minute + $5 monthly fee $.09/minute no monthly charge
Cellular phone service OTZ cell service does not work in Amber. (GCI cell service does)
Internet 64/ 64 Kbps Internet Service Plan
$25.00/ mo
512/ 64 Kbps Internet Service Plan
*Internet service discounts are provided to customers with OTZ long distance and/or cellular phone plans.

Ambler School serves 70 students K-12, and is part of the Northwest Arctic Borough School District. In 2012, approximately 68 children were enrolled.

Ten thousand watt, Kotzebue-based public radio station KOTZ (89.9 FM and 720 AM) reaches Ambler, providing news, regional information and communication and entertainment. Television programming is via the state-owned, Alaska Public Broadcasting, Inc. – operated Alaska Rural Communications System (ARCS). ARCS provides a mixture of programming for free, over the air. Individual households purchase satellite television for their own homes. The City of Ambler provides cable television service to some households, for $65 per month.

Primary employers are the school, the City of Ambler, the Native Village of Ambler, the health clinic (Maniilaq) and a few general merchandise stores.

There are approximately 130 households in Ambler, averaging about four people in each residence. Half of village homes are owner-occupied, and the median home value is $78,800. Those that rent their homes pay a median rent of $1,313. Most homes are detached, single-family homes, though there are a few multi-family dwellings of 5-9 units apiece.