Nathan Blake, 15, does a two-foot high kick during a demonstration of traditional Arctic games at the Sealaska Arts Campus on Thursday, June 8, 2022, part of the Celebration 2022 festivities. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Nathan Blake, 15, does a two-foot high kick during a demonstration of traditional Arctic games at the Sealaska Arts Campus on Thursday, June 8, 2022, part of the Celebration 2022 festivities. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Local students show traditional games skills

Pan-Arctic games.

Local students and coaches demonstrated traditional Alaska Native games such as the Alaska high kick, two-foot high kick, the Inuit stick pull and others at Atnané Hít, or House of Art, the new Sealaska Heritage Arts Campus in downtown Juneau as part of the Celebration 2022 festivities.

Nathan Blake, left, and Alex Marx-Beierly demonstrate a crawl meant to mimic the movements of a seal on an ice float during a demonstration of traditional games at the Sealaska Arts Campus on Thursday, June 8, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Nathan Blake, left, and Alex Marx-Beierly demonstrate a crawl meant to mimic the movements of a seal on an ice float during a demonstration of traditional games at the Sealaska Arts Campus on Thursday, June 8, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

The games being demonstrated weren’t actually from Southeast Alaska, according to Kyle Worl, a traditional games athlete and coach for traditional games.

“These are games that have been around for hundreds, maybe thousands of years,” Worl told a crowd gathered around two apparatuses holding up a ball at the end of a string. Many of the games involve trying to kick or grab the ball in a certain way and from a certain position.

[Hundreds gather for Celebration grand procession]

The games were originally developed by hunters, Worl said, in order to train the skills necessary to survive in a hard northern climate. The games being demonstrated Thursday were traditionally played by the Athabascan people of South Central Alaskan, Worl said, but the games can be found in Arctic Regions around the globe including Greenland and Siberia.

Lyric Ashenfelter attempts to grab a ball while balancing on her other hand while her traditional games teammate Simone Rabung watches during a demonstration of traditional Arctic games at the Sealaska Arts Campus on Thursday, June 8, 2022.

Lyric Ashenfelter attempts to grab a ball while balancing on her other hand while her traditional games teammate Simone Rabung watches during a demonstration of traditional Arctic games at the Sealaska Arts Campus on Thursday, June 8, 2022.

Leif Richards, 15, is a student at Thunder Mountain High School and currently part of a summer program for traditional games, was one of the students in Thursday’s demonstration. Richards said he’d been doing traditional games since fourth grade.

“It’s probably one foot right now, but it changes,” he said of his favorite event, the one-foot high kick.

Richards and other high school students, both boys and girls, took turns demonstrating various games but occasionally one of the coaches stepped in to demonstrate.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 20

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, July 18, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Buttons on display at a campaign event Monday, July 8, 2024, in Juneau, urge supporters to vote against Ballot Measure 2, the repeal of Alaska’s current election system. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Ranked-choice repeal measure awaits signature count after Alaska judge’s ruling

Signatures must be recounted after judge disqualifies almost 3,000 names, citing state law violations.

The offices of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development in Juneau are seen on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska demographers predict population drop, a switch from prior forecasts

For decades, state officials have forecast major population rises, but those haven’t come to pass.

Neil Steininger, former director of the state Office of Management and Budget, testifies before the House Finance Committee at the Alaska State Capitol in January of 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Neil Steininger, former budget director for Gov. Dunleavy, seeking District 1 Juneau Assembly seat

Downtown resident unopposed so far for open seat; deadline to file for local races is Monday.

A mother bear and a cub try to get into a trash can on a downtown street on July 2, 2024. Two male bears were euthanized in a different part of downtown Juneau on Wednesday because they were acting aggressively near garbage cans, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Two black bears in downtown Juneau euthanized due to aggressive behavior around people

Exposed garbage, people insistent on approaching bears contribute to situation, official says

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, July 17, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Cars arrive at Juneau International Airport on Thursday, July 11, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Juneau seems to have avoided major disruptions following global technology-related outage

911 centers, hospitals, airport, and public safety and emergency management agencies are operating.

People take photos of local dignitaries during the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Teal Street Center on Thursday afternoon. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Teal Street Center celebrates with ribbon-cutting a year after social agencies begin providing services

Nine organizations providing legal, disability, counseling and other help open under one roof.

Most Read