Point Lay is a community on Kasegaluk Lagoon, protected by a barrier island chain that extends for 120 miles (194 km) from Icy Cape southwest along the Chukchi Sea coast, about 94 miles (152 km) southwest of Wainwright and 134 miles (216 km) northeast of Point Hope, Alaska. The Iñupiat name for the lagoon was reported in 1923 as “Kasegarlik” meaning “spotted seal place” or “having spotted seal”, and changed in 1929 by U.S. Geological Survey to its present spelling. Kasegaluk Lagoon is isolated from the Chukchi Sea by a series of long thin barrier islands separated by 7 passes. The lagoon receives the waters from the Kukpowruk, Utukok Rivers, and at Point Lay the Kokolik River.
The village of Point Lay has an annual hunt for Beluga Whales offshore and within Kasegaluk Lagoon. Point Lay was named by Captain Frederick William Beechey in September 1826 for George Tradescant Lay who was the ship’s naturalist. The village was originally on Solivik Island but moved to the mainland near the mouth of the Kokolik River in the 1970s. The Iñupiat name for the village is Kali, which means “mound”, after a raised area on the barrier island at the old village site.
Point Lay was part of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line radar network, a system of defensive installations active during the Cold War. The DEW station was decommissioned during the 1990s, and the radar dishes were removed between 2004 and 2006. Read more here and here. Explore more of Kasegaluk Lagoon and Point Lay here: