This summer athletes, vendors, and spectators will gather from
around the world in Fairbanks to celebrate the 52nd Annual World
Eskimo Indian Olympics.
The World Eskimo Indian Olympics started in Fairbanks in 1961
drawing participants from villages around Alaska. The games were
started as a way of carrying on the tradition of having neighboring
villages get together to compete in games of strength, balance,
endurance, and agility. Along with these competitions there was
also traditionally dancing, storytelling, and catching up with old
the first games 52 years ago the event has grown, the number of
participants, and the places they come from have grown as well.
Participants now come from many of the Northern regions of the world
such as Canada and Greenland, as well as Native Americans from around
the continent. Last year, the World Eskimo Indian Olympics had participants,
spectators, and volunteers from 22 countries and 26 states.
Part of the draw of the games is the overall exciting atmosphere,
steeped deep in culture and tradition. People are excited to rekindle
old friendships, athletes and dancers for the competition, spectators
to see their favorite athlete and who wins, vendors to show off
their art, and people of all ages try to win the traditional regalia
contest, as well as young women competing to be the next Miss World
Eskimo Indian Olympics.
All of this energy combines to make an exciting event for people
of all ages to attend and participate in. This is evidenced by organizations
like Native Youth Olympics and the Arctic Winter Games that were
formed after World Eskimo Indian Olympics proved to be such a success.
The games have been passed down generations and were to test
peoples strength for survival. The games include the seal
hop, one foot high kick, two foot high kick, Alaskan high kick,
one arm reach, Indian stick pull, Eskimo stick pull, ear pull, arm
pull, blanket toss, fish cutting, seal skinning, muktuk eating,
and many more. There are many longstanding world records and many
that will be challenged or broken by upcoming athletes. The athletes
are all very encouraging of each other; sportsmanship is encouraged
and recognized by all. There are no age classes, meaning people
of all ages compete against each other bridging the generations.
In addition to the athletic competitions, the event also hosts
Native dance groups, more than 80 tables of vendors of Native arts
and exhibits, traditional regalia contests, and the Miss World Eskimo
Indian Olympics pageant.
The World Eskimo Indian Olympics is truly a unique experience
for everyone involved: competitors, spectators, and the volunteers
that help make it a reality year after year. It is a special event
that keeps people coming back for the excitement, friendships and
camaraderie. For more information, visit weio.org
or the World Eskimo Indian Olympics Facebook
the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics
The first World Eskimo Olympics was held in Fairbanks in 1961 drawing
contestants and dance teams from Barrow, Unalakleet, Tanana, Fort
Yukon, Noorvik and Nome. The event was a big success and has been
held annually ever since.