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World Eskimo-Indian Olympic games being held in Fairbanks July 12-15

The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics (WEIO) started Wednesday, July 12, and ends tomorrow, July 15th. WEIO has been celebrating Alaska Native games, arts, and dance for the last 62 years. The games are being held in Fairbanks at the Big Dipper Arena. 

The games at WEIO require skill, strength, agility, and endurance. The activities test every part of the body, displaying the preparedness one needs for survival. These games are played throughout rural communities during the Fourth of July and Christmas holiday festivities. 

Each year, crowds gather to watch athletes compete in traditional Alaska Native games that connect to the rich history and spirit of the region. These games reiterate the need to be strong both mentally and physically, making it possible to survive a harsh climate as the elders of the region once did. Many traditional hunting and survival activities are reflected in the 19 games represented at WEIO, ranging from the one-foot high kick to seal skinning. 

There are four awards given as tribute during WEIO. The “A.E ‘Bud’ Hagberg Memorial Sportsmanship Athletic Award, the Howard Rock Memorial Outstanding Athlete Award, the Frank Whaley Award for Outstanding Contributions, and the Olive Anderson Volunteer award. 

WEIO crowns a young woman as Miss WEIO during a pageant every year. Miss WEIO showcases cultures and languages of the region, and being a positive role model in their community. This year’s Miss WEIO is Michelle Pearl Kaleak, of Utqiagvik. 

Alaskans from around the state gathered to participate in the games. Kyle Worl of Juneau successfully landed a backflip on the blanket toss. Nome’s very own Marjorie Kunaq Tahbone and Asaaluk Nichols won first and second place respectively in the fish cutting contest. Preliminaries and finals are scheduled through Saturday night.

Photo at top: The 2014 Nulukataq event at WEIO in Fairbanks. Photo: Ronn Murray Photography, WEIO.

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