World Eskimo Indian Olympics
|Purpose||Multi-sport event for Inuit, Iñupiat, Yupik, and other Native American athletes|
The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics (or WEIO) is an annual multi-sport event held over a four-day period beginning the 3rd Wednesday each July, designed to preserve cultural practices and traditional (survival) skills essential to life in circumpolar areas of the world. The WEIO features games or sports rooted in ancestral hunting and survival techniques employed by the Inuit, Iñupiat, Yupik, and other Native Americans, as well as dance storytelling competitions, and an annual cultural pageant, called Miss WEIO, that focuses on cultural knowledge.
WEIO began in 1961 as the World Eskimo Olympics and was initially held on the banks of the Chena River in downtown Fairbanks, Alaska, in conjunction with the Golden Days celebration festivities. The event was sponsored by the City of Fairbanks, through the city's Chamber of Commerce.
In 1970, sponsorship of the event was transferred to the statewide newspaper Tundra Times and several revisions were made. This includes the name change – which inserted "Indian" to better reflect the ethnicity of the participants – and the introduction of events for women. The first decade of the events featured male-only participants; eventually, the number of events with women competing increased. Women now participate in some of the more arduous events, including ear pulls and high kicks.
Six years later, WEIO reorganized as a 501(c) non-profit organization, which took over sponsorship from the newspaper, and has been responsible for plans, preparations, and stagings related to the event.
After four and a half decades in Fairbanks, the games were relocated to Anchorage, Alaska in 2007 following a successful bid to host the event. WEIO board members were concerned that Fairbanks officials were becoming complacent, and elected to examine other venues.
The organization's general assembly voted to have the games held at the new location earlier that spring.
The event in Anchorage proved to be too costly and the games have not returned since. Fairbanks is recognized as WEIO's permanent home.
In 2018, WEIO introduced a new logo designed by Yu'pik artist Aassanaaq Ossie Kairaiuak, who is better known as a member of the band Pamyua. The new design was chosen because it better exemplifies the cultural roots of the organization. It is now included on WEIO's website, weio.org and Facebook page.
Events played at the WEIO are either traditional or everyday tasks unique to Eskimo or northern native culture:
- Knuckle Hop or Seal Hop
- Four man carry
- Ear weight
- Ear pull
- Drop the bomb
- One foot high kick and akratcheak (two foot high kick)
- One Hand Reach
- Alaskan High Kick
- Kneel jump
- Indian Stick pull
- Eskimo Stick pull (tug of war)
- Toe kick
- Arm pull
- Nalukataq (blanket toss)
- Seal skinning
- Muktuk Eating
- Greased pole walk
- Bench reach
- "World Eskimo-Indian Olympics – a History", ANKN.UAF.edu.
- Wyatt, Sarah (2007). "Malchoff on Top of the World at the 2005 World Eskimo-Indian Olympics", TheWIP.net.
- Bauman, Margaret (2007)."Eskimo games to add $1 million to Anchorages economy". Alaska Journal of Commerce. Archived from the original on 26 October 2007. Retrieved August 19, 2007.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
- ""World Eskimo-Indian Olympics to relocate"". ScienceDaily.com. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved August 19, 2007.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
- Mac Donald, Steve (2007).""Eskimo Olympics come to Anchorage", MSNBC.com". Archived from the original on 20 November 2007. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
- (2007). "The WEIO Games", WEIO.org.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to World Eskimo Indian Olympics.|
- Official website
- "History of the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics", Fairbanks-Alaska.com.
- McNeel, Jack (2003). "World Eskimo-Indian Olympics", Indian Country at the Wayback Machine (archived 12 January 2005)
- Block, Melissa (2007). Eskimo-Indian Olympics Capture Native Traditions as covered by the NPR programme, All Things Considered