The dance competition has been one of the most popular events in the long history of the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics.

There will be no dance competition in the 59th edition of the celebration of Native culture and games. Instead, participants will be involved in a dance festival during WEIO on July 17-20 at the Carlson Center.

The WEIO Board of Governors, according to an announcement on the WEIO website (, voted recently to change Native Dance Venue to a dance festival rather than a dance competition.

“Dance groups are invited to come celebrate dance for the sheer joy of it and to share their joy with all of us,’’ the announcement stated.

The games of WEIO also are popular and they’re based on traditional survival skills.

The ear pull, for example, is a tug of war of ears. It’s based on enduring frostbite during harsh winters in the North.

The Eskimo stick pull, another popular event, tests a person’s strength and mimics pulling a seal from a hole in the ice.

The best-of-three contest involves two competitors trying to wrest a stick from one another as they sit facing each other with their knees bent, feet together and hands clenching a long wooden stick.

WEIO attracts visitors from around the nation and world, and dance groups and competitors from throughout Alaska. Athletes from Canada and Greenland also have participated.

WEIO has drawn attention from national media, as it’s been featured in People and Cosmopolitan magazines and in USA Today. It’s enjoyed exposure on television programs such as ABC’s “Good Morning America,”; ESPN’s “SportsCenter”; and NBC’s “Tonight Show” when Jay Leno was its host.

WEIO veteran athlete Nick Hanson, of Unalakleet, is former finalist on “American Ninja Warrior.”

Two inductions in the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame in Anchorage are related to WEIO.

WEIO was inducted in the events category in 2008.

Nicole Johnston, who grew up in Nome and has been involved with WEIO as an athlete, coach, administrator and chairwoman of the board of governors, was inducted in the individual category in 2017.

More information about WEIO is available on its website or by calling 452-6646.