Performances, parades kick off Native Youth Olympics 2017

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The 47th annual Native Youth Olympics kicked off at the Alaska Airline Center Thursday afternoon, with more than 500 athletes from across the state gathering in Anchorage to compete this year.

The athletes will compete in 10 traditional events based on subsistence activities that have been passed along for generations, according to Cook Inlet Tribal Council. The events include the Arm Pull, the Seal Hop and the highly anticipated Alaskan High Kick.

Thursday's opening ceremony began with some traditional native performances before the more than 50 teams paraded onto the court. CITC says they represent about 100 communities in Alaska.

"It’s a great opportunity for athletes to reconnect and catch up with each other and experience what it’s like to be in a huge competition where everybody is friendly and encouraging and makes you feel like you’re part of their community," said Nicole Johnston, head officials for the games.

Johnston, who competed in her first games in 1982, will be inducted into the NYO hall of fame Thursday evening.

"It’s kind of really neat to be recognized for something that I absolutely love to do," she said. "I don’t do it for the notoriety, I do it because I love the games and they’re a lot of fun."

Once all the teams were in the arena, members of the Alaska National Guard entered with the state and national flags for the singing of the National anthem, which was performed in both English and Inupiaq.

See below for a collection of photos from the opening ceremony. And stay tuned to Channel 2 News and for the latest on the Native Youth Olympics as the games continue.

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