Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The sixth annual Traditional Games will kick off this weekend in Juneau for 17 teams of athletes from Alaska, Canada and the Lower 48.
Almost 200 middle school, high school, college and adult athletes from 21 communities will compete in 12 events that are based on ancient hunting and survival skills of Indigenous people.
The event will feature visiting teams from Alaska Pacific University; Anchorage; Chickaloon Native Village; Homer; Hoonah; Hydaburg; Kenai; Ketchikan; Metlakatla; Northwest Territory, Canada; Petersburg; Qutekcak Native Tribe; Santa Fe Indian School; Sitka; Southeast Island School District; University of Alaska Anchorage; University of Alaska Fairbanks; Washington Pacific Northwest All Nations and Yukon, Canada.
It will also feature Juneau teams from Dzántik’i Héeni Middle School, Floyd Dryden Middle School, Juneau-Douglas Yadaa.at Kalé High School, Thunder Mountain High School, University of Alaska Southeast, and Yaaḵoosgé Daakahídi High School.
“To celebrate the sixth annual Traditional Games we will be including a new event, Archery, and a new award for overall college team,” said Coach Kyle Worl.
The games are different from most other sports in that athletes competing against one another in the same events also encourage each other to reach personal bests. Coaches give helpful tips and guidance to athletes from opposing teams.
The result is an uncommon comradery and respect among athletes who find a new network of supporters and friends through the games.
Coach Kyle Worl, who resurrected a high school team in Juneau after a near 30-year lull, has competed in the games for the past 15 years and describes it as a “life-changing experience.”
“The games helped build my confidence. I felt like I belonged and that Native identity was acknowledged and embraced. It was a way to connect with my culture and come out of my shell,” said Worl, a Tlingit tribal member. Worl explained that Juneau’s event is open to parents and adults and that non-Native athletes are also welcome to compete.
The games are scheduled 9 am-10 pm, Saturday, Apr. 1 and 9 am-5 pm, Sunday, Apr. 2 at Thunder Mountain High School.
Event organizers are looking for volunteers.
To volunteer, register or contact Coach Kyle Worl at firstname.lastname@example.org or 907.227.4998.
The games will be livestreamed on Sealaska Heritage Institute’s YouTube channel which will be accessible through the Traditional Games website. Athletes who have questions should contact Coach Kyle Worl at email@example.com or 907.227.4998.
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