The two RV Gypsies really enjoyed
July 15 - 18, 2009 - at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks, Alaska
|Native Eskimos and Indians from Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and Canada gathered to compete in traditional athletic competitions (which include some unusual ones like ear-pulling, knuckle hop, high kick and the blanket toss, where age and wisdom often defeat youth and strength), plus games and dances, that are rarely seen anywhere else. This is an annual event.
|The two RV Gypsies heard about this event just in time to attend it on the last day. The evening began with the marching of the dance contestants and athletes.
|Most events require excellent athletic skills such as the one foot high kick and two foot high kick; plus others that test a persons tolerance for pain such as the ear pull, ear weight and knuckle hop; and some that require finesse such as the blanket toss.
Below: Scissor broad jump demonstration
|Below: ARM PULL: Two athletes position themselves facing each other so that their legs are positioned where one leg crosses over the opposite leg of the other competitor. They then lock arms at the elbows, fists down, and each begin pulling the other contestant towards them. Two out of three attempts will declare a winner. After each attempt, the players switch arms and legs.
|Below: KNUCKLE HOP OR SEAL HOP: This is a game of endurance to pain and a testing of strength. The object is to see how far one can go in a push-up position, with elbows bent and knuckles down. The only parts of the body touching the floor are knuckles and toes. From this position, the participant hops forward as far as possible keeping the back straight and elbows bent. A judge walked alongside the participant with a camera down by the floor to be sure they do not touch the floor improperly.
|Below: EAR WEIGHT: The weights used in this event are 16 one-pound lead ingots, which are threaded through twine. The contestant kneels down, loops the twine around one ear, puts his/her hands behind his/her back and the stand straight up, and pack the weight, then go for distance around the track. Before lead weights were used, sacks such as 25 pounds of flour were used. Distances of over 2,000 feet are attained.
|Below: The winner walked around the area almost three full times and as you can see from his face, he was in a lot of pain. Later he briefly had an ice pack on his bleeding ear before competing in other events.
|Below: ONE-FOOT HIGH KICK: The high kick event requires the athlete to jump off the floor using both feet, kick a suspended object with one foot, and land on the floor on that same foot demonstrating balance to the floor officials. Distances the height of a basketball net is not uncommon. It is supported that when a messenger from a hunting or whaling crew is within visual distance of the villagers, he will kick high into the air thereby giving a message that a whale has been shot, or the caribou are running near. The two-foot high kick means a different but similar message. The high kicks are considered the premier events of the WEIO.
|Below" The man in white trunks below is the world's record holder from last year. Attempts were made to break the record this year, but were unsuccessful.
|Below: BLANKET TOSS: Several walrus skins were used for this event. The skin had holes on the edges so that rope can be looped through all the way around and used for handle grips. One person gets in the middle of the skin and stands there while being tossed. With a good coordinated effort on behalf of the pullers, the person being tossed can get as high as 30 feet in the air and must land on his feet without falling down. This is quite similar to a trampoline, with the only difference being that people are the springs and they can move to catch an errant jumper. The Nalukataq is done in the whaling communities in the spring if there has been a successful whaling season. It has been part of the whaling feast activity as long as people can remember. There are two schools of thought as to why this sport is being done. One is for the simple exhilaration is provides, and the other is for spotting game over the horizon. The judges look at balance, height, and movements in the air. Sometimes you can see jumpers dancing or running in place and all around form and grace when determining a winner. Sometimes, flips and somersaults are done to the delight of the pullers and spectators.
Below: It took 40 men (people from the audience) to pull on the blanket. Look above for the jumper in white, way up high, and below for the jumper in red, way up high in the air.
Below: The dance team winners performed
|There were many more games played the day before such as: Indian Stick Pull, Two Foot High Kick, Native Regalia Contest, Seal Skinning Contest, and Drop the Bomb. Unfortunately, the two RV Gypsies were not in attendance. Movies of these events can be shown to friends of the two RV Gypsies when they return home, if anyone is interested.
Menu for the two RV Gypsies Adventures
World Eskimo-Indian Olympics (this page)
AFTER you have visited all five (5) sections, above, please continue on to the adventures of the two RV Gypsies at Chena Hot Springs- the ice museum/hotel and more.