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Native Youth Olympians

Native Youth Olympics high-kicker, seen in a three-image series successfully kicking a suspended beanbag in a high school gymnasium.

Native Youth Olympics (NYO) events — like the Eskimo stick pull, seal hop, kneel jump, scissor broad jump, and high kick — all connect to skills needed for subsistence.

The competitions test athlete core strength, agility, and endurance, and they build fine and gross motor muscles. The stick pull, for instance, involves a slick, greased dowel that two competitors hold at the same time, each trying to wrest away from the other. Hand grip is needed to clutch a newly-caught, slimy fish from a stream or river. The various jumping events teach dexterity and precision on ice, such as while hunting for seal and walrus. The jumps can also serve as a means of communication or a lookout for hunting parties approaching from a distance.

For Western Alaska youth and the communities that support them, NYO is cherished for team-building, fostering self-esteem and Native pride. Athlete support and camaraderie are integral to training and competition.

Images at top: During an April NYO competition in Nome, local student Elden Cross participates in the two-foot high kick, in which athletes aim to touch with their feet a sealskin beanbag at increasing heights. In this photo series, Cross reaches a height of about eight feet. Photos: Katie Kazmierski, KNOM.

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We acknowledge that KNOM Radio Mission is located on the customary lands of Indigenous peoples. 

Based in the Bering Strait region, KNOM broadcasts throughout the homelands of the Iñupiaq, Siberian Yup’ik, Cup’ik and Yup’ik peoples.