• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 35s

Snow snake ‘part of the spirit of the games’

By Heather Hintze 5:50 PM March 18, 2014

The Dene game is based on Arctic hunting skills.

FAIRBANKS - When you see the five-foot-long wooden stick slide along the ice, it’s not hard to see how the sport of snow snake got its name.

Like the other Dene games at the Arctic Winter Games in Fairbanks, it has a deeper meaning behind it.

“When the hunter was on the ice looking for a seal or polar bear or moose or something, he sneaks up to the animal, getting as low as he can, and throws the spear and the spear travels on the top of the snow and if the moose or caribou is sleeping, hopefully they have a good score,” explained Chris Anderson, a Dene games official.

Competitors throw the spear underhanded down a long runway of ice. It’s not as easy as it sounds; some of the spears veer off course and slam into snow banks.

Athletes said the sport takes a lot of technique.

“You’ve got to hold it a certain way. You gotta make sure that when you release it, you release it evenly and flat,” said Marjorie Tahbone, a member of Team Alaska from Nome. “When you release it, you have to flick your wrist a certain way. It’s all technique and it’s really amazing to see all the skills that people have to do this game.”

Competitors say it makes them proud to play a sport their ancestors have been playing for generations.

“I think it’s wonderful we get this opportunity to compete in events that we can call our own, events our ancestors created,” Tahbone said.

Anderson agrees.

“It’s part of the spirit of the games,” said Anderson, who was also the MC for the event. “You talk about your grandfathers, your great grandfathers, they’ve done these games. It’s so neat the Arctic sports and Dene games are having these types of things, these indigenous games.”

Latest Stories

  • Crime

    Friend remembers Brandon Merritt, 19-year-old killed in gas station shooting

    by Eric Ruble on May 29, 20:17

    Brandon Merritt had been in Alaska less than one month when he was shot and killed at a Holiday gas station on Abbott Road last week. He grew up here before moving to Hawai’i for his freshman year at Campbell High School in ‘Ewa Beach, where he met Sam Lewis. “Ever since the day we […]

  • News

    AFD calls Div. of Forestry, JBER for assistance with wildfire near East Anchorage

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 29, 18:01

    The Anchorage Fire Department is responding to a wildfire just less than a mile from an East Anchorage neighborhood. The fire was first reported at 5:25 p.m., according to fire dispatchers. AFD Fire Chief Denis LeBlanc said the fire was located on military land and was difficult to reach, so the department has reached out […]

  • News

    Dead whale found stuck on cruise ship docking in Seward

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 29, 17:26

    A dead humpback whale was found on the bow of a Holland America cruise ship Sunday morning in Seward. The Seward City News reported the Zaandam arrived at the Alaska Railroad terminal with what was initially believed to be juvenile humpback whale on the bulbous, lower bow. The whale has since been tentatively identified as […]

  • News

    DOF battles two wildfires near McGrath, one covers roughly 100 acres

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 29, 17:05

    The Alaska Division of Forestry is battling two wildfires near McGrath, including one that has grown to nearly 100 acres. The larger fire, known as the Medfra fire, was reported at 10:25 a.m. and “started in an old burn area and spread into an unburned area with fresh fuel.” The Alaska Interagency Coordination Center reports […]

  • News

    Firefighter: Grass fire at Glenn Highway ramp may have been started by cigarette

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 29, 15:20

    An Anchorage firefighter at the scene of a small grass fire near the Glenn Highway Sunday told KTVA it may have been started by a cigarette butt thrown out of a passing vehicle. The fire was first reported to the fire department at 2:25 p.m., according to fire dispatchers. The fire was out less than […]

  • News

    Missing girl may be with her mother, who has no legal custody

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 29, 14:53

    The Anchorage Police Department is searching for an 8-year-old girl whose mother has warrants for her arrest and doesn’t have legal custody of the girl. Nayla Demings was last seen at her father’s house on E Fifth Avenue around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday. Her father has full legal custody of Nayla and police said in […]

  • News

    Park Service considers visitor caps, expects record crowds

    by Associated Press on May 29, 14:15

    As the National Park Service kicks off a centennial summer expected to draw record crowds, the agency is seriously considering caps on how many people pass through some of the country’s most iconic landscapes and historical sites each day. Park managers have begun looking at whether, when and how best to manage the impact of […]

  • News

    Czech Republic man dies on Denali after 1,500-foot fall

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 29, 12:02

    A Czech Republic man died Saturday evening while skiing on Denali, according to the National Park Service. Pavel Michut, 45, “fell roughly 1,500 feet from an elevation of 17,000 feet” on the Messner Couloir route, NPS spokeswoman Maureen Gualtieri said in a statement Sunday. “The event was witnessed by multiple parties at the 14,200-foot camp […]