New generations learn old
way at Native games
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Condensed by Native Village
Alaska: About 700 kids from Alaska -- some Native, many not --
competed in the annual Junior Native Youth Olympics. Named "Keeping
Our Traditions Alive," the games taught students the old ways of
Alaska's indigenous cultures.
Students competed in three age brackets: 5th and 6th graders, 3rd
and 4th graders, and 1st and 2nd graders. They
kicked, jumped, hopped or ran in traditional Alaska Native games.
is not the only Native sports tradition. Everyone shows respect,
support, and helps coach each other.
When one girl bowed out of the Alaskan high-kick competition, her
coach reminded her to shake the judge's hand.
In another game, boys were using balance and agility to kick a ball
hanging overhead. When one boy struggled, a judge got down on the
floor and showed him the right technique: plant one hand on the
ground, use the other to grab the opposite foot, and then balance on
the planted hand while using the other foot to kick the ball.
"They always say, 'Nice try,' 'Good job,' 'Have fun,' " said
a 10-year-old athlete.
Junior NYO is a spinoff of the
Native Youth Olympics for high schoolers, which is held each spring.
In turn, the NYO is a spin off of the WEIO, the World Eskimo-Indian
Olympics, which is held each summer in Fairbanks.
The WEIO is the Super Bowl of Native sports.
Like its elders, Junior NYO teaches kids about Alaska's history and
culture. It preserves and honors Native games that have been played
"Many are in awe of the reasons behind the games and realize these
games had to be played to help people survive," said organizer
Nicole Johnston, who added that the kids "have so much fun!"
Take the Alaskan high kick. Fun to watch and fun to try, but
practical, too. The game was a way to develop balance, an important
skill for surviving in an icy climate.
"They use those games to do their jobs," explained one student.
The games can help with life in the city, too. Jayde has
developed skills and confidence since she started doing Native
sports in 4th grade. Now
in 6th grade, she won the girls Alaskan high kick by reaching a
height of 5 feet, 1 inch -- an inch higher than the boys' winner.
make myself kick hard, and I believe I can kick it," she said. "
Call from World Eskimo Indian Olympics
July 20 -23, 2011
Seeking all former Miss WEIO queens and
current world record holders for special
ceremonies and celebrations at the 2011 WEIO
50th Anniversary celebrations.
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