Native peoples of the world have gathered for generations to participate in games of strength, endurance, balance, and agility. Besides a bit of friendly athletic competition, they also shared dances and stories as entertainment and a way to connect and strengthen friendships between different villages. It is on this premise that the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics, first held in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1961, were created. This highly successful event has been an annual highlight in Alaska every year since.
The games showcase the skills, strength, endurance and agility these groups have developed for survival. Events include: the Knuckle Hop or Seal Hop, Four Man Carry, Ear Weight, Ear Pull, Kneel Jump, One-Hand Reach, High Kicks, Stick Pulls and the Blanket Toss. It is said that the games leave no part of the body untested.
Survival skills have always been critical for the Native people of Alaska. Elders have passed down stories of the physical strength as well as mental discipline required to hunt, fish and gather all the necessities of life in this challenging environment. They had to be strong and agile, and able to endure past normal limits of strength and pain. In winter or summer, one had to prepare to be tested at any moment, and to fail could easily be the difference between life and death.
Throughout its history, the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics has hosted crews of journalists and photographers from all over the world. In the early 1970’s, women’s divisions were established. Records are broken in almost every year, and four awards are given each year as a tribute of contributions to the WEIO.
We offer a very exciting chance to watch these ancient games, which have been hosted in Fairbanks since 1961, as part of a summer Alaskan incentive travel program! Contact us to learn more.
Photo by Andrew Otto from San Francisco, USA (Ear Pull Uploaded by mangostar) via Wikimedia Commons“We are proud members of the Association of Destination Management Executives International”