Walrus-Skin Blanket Tossing
A photo I came across in The Lure of Alaska
(1943) by Harry A. Franck. The caption reads: "Walrus-skin blanket tossing is a popular Eskimo sport even in Nome."
Here's a similar image (from the University of Washington Library
Joseph Oxendine, in his book American Indian Sports Heritage
, offers this explanation of the sport:
In this activity one player would stand on a blanket or skin (usually made of walrus or buffalo skin) while many others around the perimeter of the skin took hold and tossed him or her into the air. The person on the blanket attempted to keep his or her balance while the others would try to throw him or her off balance. Individuals were tossed as high as fifteen to twenty feet into the air...
Originally, blanket tossing was used by hunters as a means of sighting game animals at faraway distances in the flat lands. However, it has more recently been used as a source of amusement or as a game of courage for young people. According to Ewers (1944), boys were divided into teams, and the boys of one side tossed a member of the opposite team as high as they could. "The object was to make him cry out that he had enough. If they could not do that, the other side was declared the winner" (p. 185)...
Blanket tossing is still a popular source of amusement among the Eskimos for both adults and children.
Listed in chronological order. Newest comments at the end.
What do you mean we weren't supposed to toss him off the ship?
Posted by Fluffy Bunny Slippers on 01/25/12 at 07:24 AM
Hey, blanket-tossing is fun! And there are lots of Inuit festivals centered around it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nalukataq
Supposedly it started as a way to for a hunting party on a flat, treeless plain to get some elevation to look for game.
Posted by Frank H in United States on 01/25/12 at 09:02 AM
Frank, I've heard that theory before but I'm inclined to believe that it was/is just a way to break the monotony.
Posted by Expat47 in Xanth on 01/25/12 at 09:14 AM
Sounds dangerous to me.
Posted by patty in Ohio, USA on 01/25/12 at 09:57 AM
It is LOTS of fun! I did it at 17 when I lived in Alaska.
But I fear that if we try it on the cruise WUvians will be flying overboard faster that Italian cruise ship captains!!
Posted by Tyrusguy on 01/25/12 at 12:50 PM
Girls On Trampolines! Yay!
Posted by KDP in Madill, OK on 01/25/12 at 02:08 PM
I should have thought to ask if you'd done it Tyrusguy, since you said you lived up there a while.
Posted by patty in Ohio, USA on 01/25/12 at 08:03 PM
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