Indigenous Alaskans Host Their Annual Olympics

The blanket toss is one of the many events that occur during the annual Indigenous Alaskans Olympics in Fairbanks, Alaska. (Flickr user Public Affairs Office Fort Wainwright)
The blanket toss is one of the many events that occur during the annual indigenous Alaskans Olympics in Fairbanks, Alaska. (Flickr user Public Affairs Office Fort Wainwright)

Every year athletes with Alaska Native Heritage from all over the world travel to Fairbanks in Alaska to compete in the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics (WEIO). The annual Olympics are an opportunity for Indigenous Alaskans to come together and keep their traditions alive.

The competitive events at the games include:

  • Knuckle Hop or Seal Hop
  • Four Man Carry
  • Ear Weight
  • Ear Pull
  • Drop the Bomb
  • One-Foot High Kick
  • Two-Foot High Kick

“[The WEIO] becomes more important year after year, since so many of our people have lost a connection to our land and our languages. Life changes cause people to move to the city to get jobs. In a way it’s progress, but with Native people, there’s always a loss attached to it.

The Olympics give people the chance to connect with generations before them and the opportunity to do what their ancestors have done. We feel a strong need to hold on to what we can, which is what makes us who we are.”

Gina Kalloch, chairwoman of the WEIO board

“Kids often grow up through this program and see their parents and grandparents competing. We look forward to attending the WEIO because we get to see relatives that we don’t often see. It’s like a big family reunion.

It’s really important for me to pass these traditions down from one generation to the next. I want my children to know who we are and what our people did, and the WEIO is the best way to do that.”

Amber Applebee


More info about the event can be found on:

https://www.weio.org/https://www.weio.org/

and

www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/for-60-years-indigenous-alaskans-have-hosted-their-own-olympics-180978142/

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