The World Eskimo Indian Olympics are Back

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 6:56 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The mission of the World Eskimo Indian Olympics (WEIO) is to promote the culture, social games, skills, dances and traditions of Native people from Alaska and beyond.

Keeping that mission in mind, Alaska Natives from around the state have gathered in Fairbanks at the Big Dipper Ice Arena, which has become the center of ceremony and regalia.

The opening ceremonies were held Wednesday night. Dance groups from the Northern part of Alaska proudly sang their Inupiat songs to the beat of Eskimo drums in the ice arena. They were followed by their Athabascan friends from the Interior village of Minto, where young and old alike let their voices be heard.

As is tradition, members of the Alaska Native Veterans Association were on hand for the posting of the colors. Benno Cleveland told the audience, “It’s because of their services that we’re able to stand here and celebrate our culture, our traditional way of living.” His comment brought a rousing round of applause from the spectators who were on hand the evening.

The opening ceremonies also included a rendition of the Alaska State Flag song performed by the Arctic Foxes - a trio of ladies who sang the state song in the Inupiat language.

To the delight of the younger, and perhaps older participants and audience members, Alaska’s own Molly of Denali was on hand to share in the unique Alaska cultural event.

The first WEIO games were held in Fairbanks in 1961. That event attracted contestants and dance teams from six communities. Since those early beginnings the games, dancing, and athletic competitions have attracted an international audience.

The World Eskimo Indian Olympics will be taking place through July 25. Daytime events are free and open to the public. You can see traditional games like the Indian Stick Pull, Drop the Bomb, and the ever popular two foot high kick. There is an admission fee for the evening events.

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