“It was like going home”

The inaugural Beringia Arctic Games was held this summer in Chukotka, Russia, Alaska Dispatch News reports.

On the third weekend in July, the small Arctic Russian community of Novo Chaplino welcomed participants from around the circumpolar world including Iceland, Greenland, Faroe Islands, Sapmi, Alaska, Nunavut, Norway and Denmark.

And though they came to compete in events like skin boat racing or traditional Inuit games like high kick, many came away with much more than a medal.

“It was like going home,” said Johnny Issaluk, an Inuit games expert, actor and cultural ambassador from Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut. “They live exactly the way I do, that my people do. It was astonishing.”

Chukchi villages in Chukotka hold regular skin boat races together twice a year and over time organizers started thinking how the traditions in this remote Arctic region of Russia, mirrored the games and traditions of other Arctic regions, said Irina Ryabukhina, the head of the committee of sport and tourism in the government of Chukotka.

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