Double the Fun in the Far North

    by Jean McDermott

    Fairbanks, Alaska (ICC)

    Save the week of July 20-24 for two unique events: the Midnight Sun Intertribal Pow Wow and the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics (WEIO), being held side-by-side in Fairbanks.

    Don’t let the “Far North” part of the location scare you away; there’s a reason it’s called the Midnight Sun Intertribal Pow Wow.

    In July with nearly 24 hours of daylight, temperatures can reach 90 degrees or more. Add the beautiful scenery, recreational fishing, kayaking, boating, hiking and other activities, not to mention the two Native events, plus local hospitality and you have a combination that can’t be beat!

    The Midnight Sun Intertribal Pow Wow is a traditional pow wow meant to enrich the lives of all Native people, educate the general public, honor elders and share our similarities and diversities. It began in 2000 by a small group of dedicated folks who saw the need for an intertribal get-together.

    Besides the Native Athabascan, Eskimo and other Indigenous peoples in Alaska, there are a wide variety of transplants from other tribes. An intertribal pow wow was needed to keep all traditions alive and recharge everyone’s spirits.

    Chief Peter John of Minto gave his blessing to the group and the Midnight Sun Intertribal Pow Wow was born.

    Last year several Navajo Code Talkers honored Midnight Sun with a vist and hope to visit again this year. Walking Hawk drum hosts the pow wow. Dancers and drums interested in appearing should contact the pow wow for more information.

    This year the pow wow moves to new grounds and conjoins WEIO. Now folks can visit such events as the Alaskan High Kick, Knuckle Hop, Nalakatuk (Blanket Toss), and Stick Pull. All these events and more represent survival skills needed by people to survive in the far north. For instance, the Stick Pull shows how much strength someone must have to be able to pull in a seal line through a hole in the ice.

    A premier event of WEIO is the high kicks competition. The athlete jumps off the floor using both feet, kicks a suspended object with one foot, and lands on the floor using that same foot, demonstrating balance to the floor officials. Distances the height of a basketball net are not uncommon.

    High kicking was used as a message means. When a messenger from a whaling or hunting group got within sight distance of the village, he would kick high to tell the village what to prepare for. One foot high kicks told of a whale shot, or caribou running.

    WEIO began in 1961 and continues to draw record crowds, more entertainment and more competitors from all the varied villages of Alaska and Canada.

    Midnight Sun Intertribal Pow Wow:

    July 22-24, 2005; 907.456.2245;;

    WEIO: July 20-23, 2005;; 907.452.6646

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