Indigenous people compete in traditional athletic games of endurance, strength and agility. Most events showcase skills and talents needed for hunting game such as seal or whale, in time of conflict, or the protection of their communities against the elements. The individual ethnic groups celebrate their national cultures through pageants and dances. Native arts and crafts shows.
For time immemorial, Native peoples of the circumpolar areas of the world have gathered in small villages to participate in games of strength, endurance, balance, and agility. Along with these athletic games, dancing, story telling, and other audience participation games took place. This provided an opportunity for friendly competition, entertainment and laughter. The hosts provided food and lodging, and visitors brought news from surrounding villages and expanded opportunities for challenge building and renewing old and new friendships. This is the background of the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics and the spirit and atmosphere that the modern games (first held in 1961) seek to replicate. The logo for the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics is six interwoven rings representing the six major tribes in Alaska - Aleut, Athabascan, Inupiaq, Yup'ik, Haida, Tlingit, and Tsimpsian.
Examples of World Eskimo-Indian Olympic Events:
Knuckle Hop or Seal Hop
This is a game of endurance to pain and a testing of strength. The object is to see how far on can go in a "push-up" position, with elbows bent and knuckles down. The only parts of the body touching the floor are knuckles and toes. From this position, the participant "hops" forward as far as possible keeping the back straight and elbows bent. This games originally was played o n the floor of a traditional community center or hut, or outside on the ground. Now, this game takes place on the arena floor.
Alaskan High Kick
This is a game of balance where the athlete sits on the floor below a target with one hand grasping the opposite foot. With his/her remaining free hand planted on the floor, the athlete springs up and attempts to kick the target with the free foot. After kicking the target, the athlete must show balance upon landing - he/she is at the original position before kicking. Height is the objective.
In this event, there are two people sitting down facing each other with twine looped around each other's ear - right ear to right ear, left to left. The two begin a "tug-of-war" to see who the winner is. Best two out of three wins the match. There are times when the loop will slip off one opponent's ear - that person is the loser of that round. Each participant alternate each round using alternate ears. A game of stamina to pain, the victor demonstrates he/she can withstand pain, a trait sometimes needed to survive the harsh realities of the North.
World Eskimo-Indian Olympics Web Site