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.