Games of the North

Overview, Time and Materials

The games are physically demanding and can help students develop great agility, strength, endurance, and balance, but their importance transcends the physical. They promote mental focus, confidence, and toughness while embodying Iñupiaq values of cooperation, self-reliance, and community. The games can involve participants of every ethnic orgin and can work to change both attitudes and behavior in students anywhere.

Time required

The time required to teach this Learning Center will depend on whether students are being introduced to the games or are familiar with how to play. After the teacher has modeled each game, time should be allotted for students to practice and ask questions. Each game should take between 15-30 minutes depending on class size. Students can repeat the games for further practice.

Classroom Materials

Games of the North Video. Order the complete video, available beginning in the spring of 2011, from

Eskimo Stick Pull: A stick or dowel, approximately 1.25 inches in diameter and 18 inches long. A small area of the floor. A mat for the contestants to sit on is optional.

Alaska High Kick: Some sort of target (traditionally, a small 4 to 5-inch handmade seal skin ball was used). A structure that is tall enough to suspend the target, such as a basketball backboard. A tie off point for the string that allows for the height of the target to be easily adjusted. (These same materials will be needed for the One-oot High Kick and the Two-Foot High Kick as well.)

Kneel Jump: A tape measure. Open floor space with a starting stripe.

Scissor Broad Jump: No equipment is needed other than space in a gym or room to perform the game.

Leg Wrestle: A small floor space. A mat for the contestants to lie on.

One-Foot High Kick: See directions for the Alaska High Kick

Two-Foot High Kick: See directions for the Alaska High Kick

Wrist Carry: A round stick or dowel 48 inches long and 1 and 5/16 inches in diameter. The stick is marked with a line the long way so judges can watch for twisting (not allowed). A fairly large, measured floor space. A watch. A start line.

Finger Pull: A mat for the contestants to sit on is optional.

Seal Hop: A starting stripe and a turning stripe. A large floor space. A tape measure.

"No matter how much our circumstances change, I hope our people will always stop from time to time to do the same--renew the bonds that connect us across five hundred generations." -Willie Hensley, Iñupiaq Leader