Archeological investigation at kobuk began in the early 1940's and has continued sporadically ever since. There has never been enough time, money or personnel, but enough information has been culled over the last 6 decades to allow for a clear enough picture of the history of kobuk to emerge.
The earliest known inhabitants of Kobuk Valley Park were Alaskan Indians that lived in a sparse treeless environment nearly 13000 years ago. Traces of this historic settlement can be seen at the archeological digs present in the park. The kobuk indians appear to have been mostly hunters of caribou.
Even now, decades later, only the surface of kobuk valley park's prehistory have been revealed. This is because most of the known archeological sites in the park are winter settlements which were concentrated along the river. Other aspects of the lifestyles of the prehistoric inhabitants of the valley, especially those activities that took place away from the Kobuk River, are still basically unknown and remain to be investigated. However, enough research has occurred regarding the cultural chronology of the park to outline a sequence of events.
Kobuk seems to have been uninhabited for a period of thousands of years until the great migration of tribes occurred. At this time, the ancestors of the Alaskan Indian arrived and settled in the midst of the Kobuk Valley, and specifically near the Kobuk River. These primitive tribes - based on archeological digs still in-progress - appear to have spent their time fishing and hunting among the caribou herds.
Fast-forward another 1000 years or so and these primitive tribes had advanced to the point of being tool makers and accomplished hunters. An Eskimo/Indian culture had been created and this spread throughout most of the Artic, reaching as far as Greenland. Again, this culture remained tied to the coastal region and the focal point of their existence in Kobuk was tied to the river and hunting. It is not unreasonable to think that the Indians began traveling outside of kobuk as a means to initiate trade.
In more recent times - a period of about 1,000 to 1,500 years ago, the caribou herds began to thin out, probably due to over hunting. As a result, the middle and upper portions of the Kobuk River remained unoccupied. There is a noticeable shift in the findings of tools and huts as the tribes migrated to areas of Kubuk valley where the caribou herds were still plentiful.
Within the last 800 years or so, the Eskimo culture of Kobuk Valley Park seems to have been firmly entrenched. As a matter of necessity, the Indians show signs of adapting quite well to the area outside of the Kobuk River. Western influence was a result of trading that occurred throughout the 19th century. But it wasn't until the early 20th century that actual exploration of the Kobuk valley began in earnest.
The best way to view kobuk valley park is to consider it an integral piece of a larger puzzle that links the Alaskan culture throughout the Artic. As more resources - financial and otherwise - become available, a clearer picture of kobuk valley and its inhabitants will become known.