Native Youth Olympic Games

Photo by Roy Neese

The Native Youth Olympic Games began in the 1970s with a group of students in an Anchorage boarding school playing traditional Alaskan games of strength and agility to feel connected with their homes and cultures. Now, about 600 Alaskan students from around the state compete in events representing Native Alaskan traditions, such as the Eskimo Stick Pull and Seal Hop.

The unique events are fascinating and exciting to watch. The One- and Two-Foot High Kick events require the athlete to jump up very high to kick a suspended ball that is raised in increments of four inches each time, with one foot or two feet. In some Alaskan cultures, these high kicks were used to signal successful hunts.

Because of its roots in Alaskan heritage, how it’s grown in the 40-odd years since its inception and its positive impact on participating students and their grades, the NYO Games were inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.

This year, the senior Native Youth Olympics, for students grades 7 to 12, will take place April 25 to 27 at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. Admission is free. Visit to learn more.