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Paulatuk is located on Darnley Bay at 69°21'N and 124°04'W, 402 km east of Inuvik and 885 km northwest of Yellowknife.

Paulatuk was named after the coal used by the local Inuit when they settled there in the early 1920's. In 1935 the Roman Catholic Church opened a trading post and twenty years later the construction of a DEWLine site created wage employment and considerable community wealth.