Athletics and Tradition Play Together at the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics

Her eyes are closed as she takes in a few deep calming breaths. Like every athlete since the ancient Greeks, she is focused on getting into the zone at this Olympic event. With tool in hand, she is ready as soon as the whistle blows. Her white t-shirt and long sundress are somewhat unusual for an Olympic competition, but it doesn’t seem to get in the way. In 27 seconds, Kelly Lincoln is done while the rest of the field still struggles valiantly with their task. Proudly, she holds her completed salmon fillets up high for the judges and the audience to see. She has just won the the Fish Cutting event at the 2019 World Eskimo-Indian Olympics.

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PhotoPOSTcard: You’re Pulling My Ear

Leroy Shangin attempts to win in the finals of the Ear Pull event at the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics (WEIO) in Fairbanks, Alaska. As with all the games at WEIO, this event is rooted in traditional games that tested and prepared the indigenous people for survival in the cold and harsh climate of the region. The Ear Pull tests a contestant’s ability to withstand pain, especially in the extremities due to possible frostbite. The event is played with two opponents looping a length of sinew around their ears and pulling as hard as they can until one of them gives up.  A match is best two out of three.

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Rose