Traditional Games

Boys 1 Ft. High Kick during the 2019 State NYO Games. Photo by Greg Lincoln

by Greg Lincoln

For the past two years – 2020 and 2021, we have missed the live, in-person Native Youth Olympics statewide event that is usually held every spring in Anchorage. This year, the Sealaska Heritage Institute will be hosting Traditional Games in Anchorage on June 19th and 20th, 2021.

Athletes ages 16+ are invited to participate. The games will be held at the Special Olympics Alaska Gym at 3200 Mountain View Dr. starting at 11am.

All of our favorite native games will be featured including: the Scissor Broad Jump, Kneel Jump, the Two Foot High Kick, Arm Pull, Dene Stick Pull, the One Foot High Kick – Canadian, and the Airplane on Saturday.

On Sunday there will be the One Hand Reach, the Alaskan High Kick, Head Pull, Knuckle Hop, and the Closing Ceremony & Awards.

We have always had many great traditional games athletes from our region. You can find their names in the NYO record books dating back to decades. Traditional games are a part of the Alaskan culture, they are a fun and healthy way to keep active and strong.

The atmosphere at any NYO or native games event – in our village schools or in the city – is always positive, the respectful hush and quiet voices and the applause is something to appreciate. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world!

“The Traditional Games includes 10 different events that test skills of strength, agility, balance, endurance and focus. These games are based on hunting and survival skills of the Indigenous people of Alaska and across the Arctic going back hundreds of years,” says the Traditional Games site. “Athletes strive to perform at their personal best while helping and supporting their fellow competitors, no matter what team. This is the spirit of the games, to work together toward common goals and learn from the skills and values that allowed Alaska Native people to survive and thrive in some of the harshest conditions.”

There is a limit of 50 athletes with athletes and officials only at the event, no spectators yet. To register, visit

If you register, you must be tested within 72 hours of the event or fully vaccinated. This event is sponsored by Sealaska Heritage, Sealaska, Tlingit & Haida, UAS, and Select Physical Therapy.

If you have any questions, please contact Kyle Worl: email [email protected] or PHONE: (907) 227-4998

Events were also held in Juneau on May 8th and 9th of this year.