The Backwoods

Where we teeter between our love of modern convenience and the yearning for something long past; a world where neighbors knew your name and a “Friend Request” was eye contact and a smile.

Native Youth Olympics II

Posted · 14 Comments

Two Foot High Kick

When Steven and Luke moved in they were already heavily involved in the Native Youth Olympics, and so I threw Anthony into the mix because…let’s face it…it gets him out of the house for four hours a week.  This year Robin jumped aboard also and they have been diligently working towards competitions for months now.  Last weekend they attended their first competition of the year at the Arctic Winter Games, in Soldotna, Alaska, where children from all over gathered to compete against one another in traditional native events.

The Native Youth Olympics are games which mimic something from the Alaska native lifestyle, most of which test strength and endurance.  My children signed up for every single event, which meant three long days of bleacher butt for me, but loads of fun for them. The sport is an excellent opportunity for my native boys, Steven and Luke, to commune with people with similar backgrounds and culture…and they even get to spend some time with a few relatives who flew in for the games.

There is not much I can say about this sport that you can’t find with a quick Google search….so rather than bore you with the technicalities…I’ll share my kids experience…in photos.


The two foot high kick is my kids favorite event.  Steven took third in the junior division.

Robin in the two foot high kick...


Here is a video of Steven performing the two foot high kick:

And here is the boy who won the senior division, which is 7th thru 12th grade.


The ALASKA HIGH KICK is where they start out sitting on the ground under the ball.  They hold one foot, raise the rest of their body until they are balanced on one hand, and try to extend enough to kick the ball.  Luke took third in this event…which is saying a lot since he is a good foot shorter than most every other competitor! (Luke’s birth dad is no taller than 5’3″…so he will have to make up for his size, in oomph!)

Alaska High Kick


Senior Division Alaska High Kick


Robin took third in the wrist carry...

The Wrist Carry is described with one word: Painful.  The participant hangs by their wrist…not their hand…their wrist…and the ‘carriers’ take them around the gym and measure the distance before they fall to the floor in pain.  The senior division kids travel at top speed, whereas the younger kids travel at a slow, steady pace.

Here is Luke in the “Wrist Carry”:


Robin in the One Foot High Kick

The One Foot High Kick is considered the headliner event because the kids reach heights unimaginable to most of us.  Steven took third in the junior division and Robin took fourth, which doesn’t earn a ribbon, but since this was her first year, we were pretty impressed.


Anthony beat the Kenai Peninsula Junior Division record in the kneel jump. Watch in awe…haha:


None of the boys placed in the Eskimo Stick Pull, but they love the event. The concentration and seriousness comes out in all of them when it comes down to competing against each other.  And the best part is…once hey have lost, they shake hands, step back, and cheer each other on. 

Look at the concentration on Luke’s face as he takes on Anthony…


Serious brother on brother competition...


Steven even smiles...when he's losing!


The Indian Stick Pull is a fun one…because though it looks like they are just wrestling that stick away from the opponent…there is a catch.  The stick, is completely lathered in shortening.  It is meant to simulate catching a fish with bare hands.  They basically wiggle the stick back and forth until the other kid’s hand slips off.  Anthony took first place in the Indian Stick Pull.

Luke in the Indian Stick Pull...


But besides the events, the Kenaitze Indian Tribe put on a feast of all feasts.  The gym was end to end with a table of food, mostly traditional native foods.  I enjoyed trying some new things, like whale..which I had only had once…and seal which I had never dared to try.  Steven and Luke were in heaven as they eyed the spread of foods they had been raised on before coming to Ninilchik.  Now, perhaps, Luke will stop bugging me to make him some fish eye soup.  At least for a while…

Salmon, muktuk or bowhead whale (the black and white) and the dark hunk of meat is seal.


There was a special presentation of a Blanket Toss, along with several fantastic demonstrations of events we don’t have at our games…events, I dare say, most of us wouldn’t be tough enough to do!


14 Responses to "Native Youth Olympics II"
  1. Totally cool! I want to try some of these as boredom busters inbetween school subjects 😉

  2. Kymjim says:

    How much fun was that??? The kids had so much fun it made me want to go!!

  3. Terri says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this experience with us. It is absolutely fascinating. And to think I have a14 yr old who did one season on the basketball team and one season on the swim team and won’t do either of them again because they are “too hard”.

  4. Anita says:

    what a great way to honour their heritage!

  5. Rzaruba says:

    Great article. Just to let you know, wrist carry & blanket toss videos are showing Luke kicking instead.

  6. Andrea says:

    WOW! I got tired just looking at that. I can’t imagine how the body does those things. Way to go Backwoods Kids!

  7. Melikiss says:

    I remember doing several of these activities in my elementary school gym class in Anchorage.  So glad to know that the Native Alaskan heritage is still alive and “kicking”.

  8. Wleman1949 says:

    Great stuff! And your kids have a lot of the right stuff.

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