Thursday, December 18, 2014

Native Youth Olympics

     The Native Youth Olympics, also known as NYO, is a sport that was started in 1972 and includes 10 events. The events are based on games that past generations of Alaska Native people to test their hunting and survival skills. The events require strength, endurance, agility, flexibility, and balance of the body and the mind.
     Our school held a NYO competition the weekend of November 22nd. There were schools from about 6 other villages competing along with our team here in Eek. It was a long weekend, but very exciting to watch all the students compete. *Our students are the ones in yellow.*

The Alaskan High Kick: the athlete tries to kick a ball suspended overhead while balancing on a single hand in an event that demands the mind and body work in harmony to maintain control.

Some of them would get really high. Dirk had to stand on a chair to measure the height of the ball.

The One-Foot High Kick: considered the headline event of the games, competitors jump off both feet and attempt to kick a ball suspended high in the air with one foot, landing back on that same foot.

The One-Hand Reach: competitors balance on only one hand and reach for a ball hanging above them. It takes extreme balance and control to accomplish this. If a hunter became lost on water, for example, they had to possess the body control necessary to avoid panicking and tipping their kayak.

The Eskimo Stick Pull: a game of strength. Successful hunters must be able to pull a seal out of the water. This is no easy task while maintaining balance on snow and ice. Hand, back and leg strength are critical. Two athletes sit facing each other and pull on a stick, each trying to pull their opponent toward him without jerking.

The Seal Hop: a game of sheer endurance.  Each athlete hops across the floor in a push up position, using only hands and toes.  The winner is the athlete who travels the farthest distance without stopping. This game originated with hunters imitating the movement of a seal.

The Indian Stick Pull: competitors face away from each other, grabbing opposite ends of a stick and attempting to pull it from each other’s grasp. It may sound easy, but the stick also is smeared with shortening.

There are a few other events that I didn't get pictures of:

The Wrist Carry: a test of survival, this event has origins based on hunting. Hunters had to develop endurance and strength in order to carry game for long distances. A competitor, with one wrist draped over a stick, is carried by two teammates as far as possible around an oval track until the person being carried can no longer hang on.

The Kneel Jump: a trial of agility and muscle strength. Hunters had to develop each in order to successfully jump from one ice floe to another, not to mention lift heavy game and carry it back to the village.

Two-Foot High Kick: this is a supreme test of abdominal strength and balance. Jumping with both feet simultaneously, athletes kick a suspended ball, then land on both feet without falling backwards.

Toe Kick: this event requires both strength and airborne agility. Starting from a standing position be- hind a line, athletes jump with feet together over a stick, tapping it with their toes be- fore landing on both feet. After each round, the stick is moved in four-inch increments away from the start line.

     It was a lot of fun and amazing to watch all of the students compete. It was really great to see how focused and dedicated some of the students were. Their concentration and control was absolute. I hope everyone enjoys learning a little about this sport.

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