Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Using Traditional Games to Promote Sustainability and Peace in the Arctic


Movement Science Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


With climate change expanding trade routes in the Arctic and the resultant pursuit of oil, gas, mineral deposits, and fish, it is imperative that the eight Arctic countries find paths towards sustainability and peace in the region. Revisiting and understanding the traditional games of the indigenous people of these regions can go a long way towards helping those determining the region s future to work cooperatively towards these goals. Throughout history the games we have played have been a testament about who we were, and are. From early Inuit bone and hunting games, to the gladiator contests of Ancient Rome, to the modern American game of baseball, the games we play have served as a statement of and a rehearsal for the life-world of that period and place. By reconnecting with and understanding the games of our past, we can build meaningful bridges between our past and present, and hopefully gain a better understanding of our modern world. The aforesaid are timely and important, especially as they relate to indigenous people throughout the world who are trying to preserve their traditions in a fast changing modern world. Israel Ruong (1953) called the preservation of indigenous Sámi traditions, active adaptation. He said, Active adaptation means that Sámi cannot alone and without criticism adopt modern culture, casting aside their cultures irreplaceable values, but that they hold fast to their cultural traditions in the new conditions (Ruong cited in Lehtola, 2004: p. 60). This presentation/paper will be divided into two parts. The first part will provide a discussion on the importance of play and games. Section two will offer, based on my research and experiences in the Arctic, lessons learned from traditional Arctic games that may help promote sustainability and peace in the Arctic world. Hopefully by acknowledging these lessons we can pursue a path forward, together reconnecting with the traditional games of the Arctic with the hope of building meaningful bridges between the past and present and moreover, helping to enhance our understanding of the important role traditional games can play in shaping an Arctic where sustainability and peace flourish.

Conference Name

Sustainable Sport

Conference Location

Malmo, Sweden

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