The first Native Youth Olympics (NYO) were held in the winter of 1971 and were conceived and organized by students attending the Boarding Home Program School in Anchorage, Alaska. In the first year of competition, 12 schools participated, with student athletes traveling from Sitka and Nome. Since then, the number of athletes and enthusiasm surrounding the Games have increased as NYO Games Alaska received state and national recognition.
Our Alaska Native ancestors developed traditional contests to develop abilities crucial to everyday life. Competition with one another honed the abilities needed to successfully hunt and fish for daily survival in the traditional way of life. The creators of the NYO Games wanted to demonstrate these skills and preserve the traditional contests and culture of their forefathers. This vision has been realized and is now witnessed by people worldwide thanks to the involvement of many dedicated student athletes, coaches, volunteers, and the support of generous corporate sponsors and individual donors.
When our ancestors had successful hunting or fishing trips, they would return to their village to share how and where they succeeded. Survival depended on their willingness to help each other. Today, athletes competing in NYO carry on the tradition of sharing their knowledge with teammates and others. In an event more about achieving a personal best more than beating the competition, the Native Games are the only sporting event in the world where competing athletes help each other to be successful in the Games and in life.