World Eskimo Indian Olympics is a cultural celebration

by Delta Discovery Staff

The 2019 World Eskimo Indian Olympics is in the books!

This annual event held in Fairbanks, Alaska in July is an event that showcases the different cultures, song and dance, and traditional games of the native peoples of the north.

On opening day Wednesday the 5K Race of the Torch took place on the traditional route alongside the Chena River. Fans did not have long to wait. Only 18 minutes and 36 seconds later the winner for the men – Dion Sussook of Galena crossed the finish line.

Winning for the women was Dawn Dinwoodie of Anchorage. Dinwoodie finished in 23:29. Dinwoodie was pleased with her win and is a past champion approximately 20 years ago at this same event.

The day was blazing hot, reaching a high of 78 degrees making it very hot for the racers. Some finishers waded into the nearby Chena River to cool off.

The winners of the race had the honor of presenting the Torch during the opening ceremonies to light the traditional seal oil lamp.

The games are hosted by the World Eskimo Indian Olympics board of directors, volunteers, and businesses and organizations and the host community of Fairbanks. An army of seasoned judges helped officiate the games and made sure that everything ran smoothly.

The festivities continued on Wednesday with the traditional opening ceremonies, welcome speeches, the parade of athletes and participants, the arts and crafts sale, and ended on Saturday with the Knuckle Hop as the final event.

There were several athletes from the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta region that participated at WEIO this year. Lorraine Tom of Chefornak, the current Miss Cama-i, was crowned the 2019 Miss WEIO on Friday night.

Sophie Swope of Bethel placed second in the One Hand Reach with a height of 56” and also second in the Muktuk Eating Contest. This was the first time Swope participated in the Muktuk Eating Contest.

Other participants included Kwigillingok’s Native Youth Olympics stars Arnold Phillip and Merlin White. Phillip placed third in the Indian Stick Pull. White placed second in Drop the Bomb.

Anaktuvuk Pass’s Stanley Riley set a new record in the 4-Man Carry. He carried four men of approximately 150 lbs. each a distance of 334′ 3 ½”, setting a new world record.

Riley also won the Muktuk Eating Contest.

The whale muktuk for the contest was generously donated by Gordon Brower of Barrow and his “Ikayuaq” Crew. Brower’s 17 year old son Bradley Brower harpooned the 54’ 4” bowhead whale. It was his first whale catch.

Chevak’s Casey Ferguson took gold in the Alaskan High Kick and third in the 2 Foot High Kick.

Christian Paul of Kipnuk/Barrow took third in the Kneel Jump with a distance 57 ¼”.

Traditional dancers clad in their dance regalia from Johnson O’Malley, Minto, and Nome filled the Carlson Center with song and dance during breaks. Volunteers entertained the crowd with game and skill demonstrations.

Tables filled with exquisite and intricate works of native art and craftsmanship kept craft seekers busy. There was something for everyone – ivory and wood carvings, fur and skin clothing items, uluaqs, jewelry of all kinds, beaded items, qaspeqs, fried bread, drum sets, drawings, jams and jellies, healing salves, and parkas with beautiful ruffs.

Vendors for local businesses and organizers were also well-represented along with WEIO themed apparel sales. Visitors from all over the world attended the games and events.

2019 WEIO Results

Race of the Torch


1st: Dawn Dinwoodie, Anchorage, 23 mins 29 sec

2nd: Sidney Isom, Lake Minchumina, 23 mins 35 sec

3rd: Maxine Dilbert, Fairbanks, 24 mins 59 sec


1st: Dion Sussook, Galena, 18 mins 36 sec

2nd: Sheldon Albert, Ruby, 19 mins 9 sec

3rd: Preston Silas, Fairbanks, 19 mins 46 sec

Drop the Bomb

1st: Tim Field, Las Vegas 68’ 8”

2nd: Merlin White, Kwigillingok 47’ ½”

3rd: Bryan Johnson, Juneau 44’ ¾”

Seal Skinning

1st: Marjorie Tahbone, Nome, 1 min 52.31 sec

2nd: Kelly Lincoln, Bethel, 2 mins 6.69 sec

3rd: Mary Kakoona, Shishmaref, 2 mins 21.23 sec

Blanket Toss


1st: Marjorie Tahbone, Nome

2nd: Amanda Phipps, Fairbanks

3rd: Teyah Clark, Wasilla

2 Foot High Kick


1st: Emily King, Whitehorse, 70”

2nd: Alexandria Ivanoff, Unalakleet, 67”

3rd: Sara Steeves, Juneau, 62”


1st: Stuart Towarak, Unalakleet, 98”

2nd: Kyle Worl, Juneau, 95”

3rd: Casey Ferguson, Eagle River, 95”

Ear Pull


1st: Auna Reed-Lewis, Palmer

2nd: Joannae Semaken, Unalakleet

3rd: Chelsea Morrow, Wasilla


1st: Linc Qimiq, Fairbanks

2nd: Leroy Shangin, Anchorage

3rd: Seth Strange, Chugiak

Indian Stick Pull


1st: Nicole Johnston, Anchorage

2nd: Marjorie Tahbone, Nome

3rd: Joanne Semaken, Unalakleet


1st: Ezra Elisoff, Juneau

2nd: Leroy Shangin, Anchorage

3rd: Arnold Phillip, Kwigillingok

Muktuk Eating

1st: Stanley Riley, Anaktuvuk Pass, 28.28 secs

2nd: Sophie Swope, Bethel, 42.13 secs

3rd: Diane DuFour, Fairbanks, 46.72 secs

Native Regalia

Eskimo Cloth

1st: Adelle Hanson, Fairbanks

2nd: Lauryn Hanson, Fairbanks,

3rd: Rayme Harris, Wasilla

Eskimo Fur

1st: Ruth Miller, Anchorage

Alaskan High Kick


1st: Sara Steeves, Juneau, 72”

2nd: Camille Bernard, Wasilla, 67”

3rd: Emily King, Whitehorse, 66”


1st: Casey Ferguson, Chevak, 92”

2nd: Makiyan Ivanoff, Anchorage, 86”

3rd: Andrew Kashevarof, Anchorage, 86” 2 misses

Scissor Broad Jump


1st: Alexandria Ivanoff, Unalakleet, 27’ 1”

2nd: Emily King, Whitehorse, 25’ 5 ½”

3rd: Auna Reed-Lewis, Palmer, 23’ 2 ½”


1st: Nick Hanson, Unalakleet, 37’ 1 ½”

2nd: Makiyan Ivanoff, Anchorage, 35’ 2 ½”

3rd: Bernard Clark, Wasilla, 34’ 11 ½”

Kneel Jump


1st: Emily King, Whitehorse, 42 ½”

2nd: Alexandria Ivanoff, Unalakleet, 42”

3rd: Camille Bernard, Wasilla, 37 ½”


1st: Kyle Worl, Juneau, 60 ½”

2nd: Austin Sumdum, Anchorage, 58 ¼”

3rd: Christian Paul, Barrow, 57 ¼”

One Hand Reach


1st: Camille Bernard, Wasilla, 56”

2nd: Sophie Swope, Bethel, 56” 3 misses

3rd: Emily King, Whitehorse, 55”


1st: Bernard Clark, Wasilla, 70”

2nd: Manuel Tumulak, Anchorage, 65”

3rd: Kyle Worl, Juneau, 64”

4-Man Carry

1st: Stanley Riley, Anaktuvuk Pass, 334’ 3 ½” NEW RECORD

2nd: Sido Evans, Rampart, 235’ 9 ¾”

3rd: Walter Sean Hawkins, 170’ 10 ¼”

Fish Cutting

1st: Kelly Lincoln, Bethel

2nd: Marjorie Tahbone, Nome

3rd: Nick Hanson, Unalakleet

Eskimo Stick Pull


1st: Julee-Anna Van Velzor, Chugiak

2nd: Mandy Sullivan, Fairbanks

3rd: Flossie Wahlberg, Anchorage


1st: Sido Evans, Rampart

2nd: Walter Sean Hawkins, Anchorage

3rd: Scott Thacker Jr., Fairbanks

Greased Pole Walk


1st: Adriana Johnston, Eagle River, 46”

2nd: Awaluk Nichols, Nome, 40 ¼”

3rd: Patrice DeAsis, Juneau, 34 ¼”


1st: Kyle Worl, Juneau, 77 ½”

2nd: Vance Gregory, Fairbanks, 32”

3rd: Nick Hanson, Unalakleet, 31”