by Greg Lincoln
The 60th Anniversary year for the World Eskimo Indian Olympics, or WEIO, is coming up later this month, to be held in the interior city of Fairbanks. After being put on hold last year due to the pandemic, WEIO organizers are getting ready.
The festivities begin on July 21 and go through the 24th at the Big Dipper Ice Arena, where the games originally were held before moving to the Carlson Center.
The World Eskimo Indian Olympics exists to help preserve and promote traditional Alaska Native Cultures, giving athletes and artists, elders and youth, and traditional dancers a venue to celebrate the games, art, and dance. It also brings together folks from all over the state.
The first annual event began in 1961 and was called the Eskimo Olympics. By the 1970s, the organization became incorporated and changed the name to World Eskimo Indian Olympics to reflect the preservation and promotion of indigenous peoples of Alaska, the Americas and the of the circumpolar north.
WEIO honors our Elders. Elders serve as Keepers of the Flame – a seal oil lamp that is lit throughout the events. Elders love watching the games. There is also a hospitality room for them where they can have refreshments and tea. Thank you WEIO for taking care of our living treasures.
Events include the 5K Race of the Torch, Toe Kick, Four Man Carry, Kneel Jump, One Hand Reach, Blanket Toss, Fish Cutting, Four Man Carry, Eskimo Stick Pull, Alaskan High Kick, Greased Pole Walk, Baby Regalia Contest, Muktuk Eating, Indian Stick Pull, Drop the Bomb, Two Foot High Kick, Open Regalia Contest, Ear Pull, Seal Skinning, Bench Reach, One Foot High Kick, Arm Pull, Ear Weight, and also the Miss WEIO Pageant and dance performances.
You can view the schedule of events and other WEIO-related info at their website: weio.org.
Visitors and participants are encouraged to be vaccinated for Covid-19. This is not a requirement for attendance.