In the northern most areas of Alaska the blanket toss was used as a means of survival for natives. Since there aren’t any trees growing on the ice shelves, or hills to climb, the natives used the blanket toss to lift a spotter in the air 20 – 40 feet to help spot seal or whale distances away. In many villages this survival skill would be used as a celebratory event after a successful hunt.
At the World Eskimo Indian Olympics in Anchorage I was able to participate as a puller. The blanket is made from oiled seal skin with a braided rope around the edge. Forty two pullers lift the blanket in rhythm until the leader counts and the jumper is thrown into the air. The participants are judged on height, skill or tricks in the air, and successful landing. The event lasted about an hour and I was pooped when it was completed.