by Sarah Wyatt
Danielle Malchoff, 17, was a two-time champion at the 2007 World Eskimo-Indian Olympics (WEIO), held July 18-21 in her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. At first glance, Danielle looks like any average teenager – her pierced eyebrow and black fingernail polish both testaments to youth culture. But Danielle knows she also represents the historic culture of her ancestors, competing fiercely in the WEIO games even though she only began participating last year. An Athabascan and Aleut, Danielle says, "I grew up in the Native community, but still learned a lot about my culture by participating". "These games have been handed down from generation to generation. Each game has its origin and a functional purpose [in the culture]."
• Danielle took first place in both the Alaskan high kick and the two-foot high kick. Requiring agility, balance and strength, the high kick events are considered the premier events of WEIO. An all-around athlete, Danielle placed second in the kneel jump, the one-foot high kick and the scissors broad jump, and then took third in the blanket toss.
Danielle prepares for the Alaskan high kick. Photograph courtesy of Sarah Wyatt. •
Danielle received her coaching for the one-foot high kick competition from the current record holder, Carol Pickett.
This specialty requires the athlete to jump off the floor using both feet, to kick a suspended object with one foot, and then land on the floor using only that same foot. This event originated from caribou hunting; a messenger kicked high in the air as a signal to the hunters that the animals were running near.
Danielle is a high school senior who is already taking college courses. During the summer she works at a Native heritage center, and volunteers with other local causes.
For Danielle, like so many of her peers, the sports events are not the only cultural activities in which she participates. "I am active in Native dance groups," she said. "I believe it’s vital for my generation to preserve our heritage."