Nuiqsut is located about 18 miles south of the Colville River headwaters at the Beaufort Sea and 135 miles southeast of Utqiaġvik. In the winter, temperatures range from 0 degrees to 30 below zero, and the summers range from 35 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
During the early 20th century, Christian missionaries were introduced to the Utqiaġvik region. This movement, along with the emergence of health care services and schools provided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, prompted the Iñupiat from Nuiqsut to immigrate to Utqiaġvik. In 1973, 27 Iñupiat families moved back to Nuiqsut from Utqiaġvik and lived in tents braving the elements for over 18 months. In 1974, the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation funded construction of the village. Nuiqsut was incorporated as a second class city in 1975.
The Colville River Delta has traditionally been a gathering and trading place for the Iñupiat and a good source for hunting, fishing and whaling. Nearby subsistence species include bowhead whales, caribou, seals, moose and waterfowl; fish include whitefish, burbot, arctic char and grayling.