Arctic games exhibit to showcase Inuit, Sami traditions

GVL/Archive - Lauren Perni, 4, enjoys a sleigh ride during the first annual GVSU Reindeer games on Friday, Nov. 30, 2012 outside of Grand Valleys Kirkhof Center.


GVL/Archive – Lauren Perni, 4, enjoys a sleigh ride during the first annual GVSU Reindeer games on Friday, Nov. 30, 2012 outside of Grand Valley’s Kirkhof Center.

Drew Schertzer

Live reindeer will be on display at Grand Valley State University along with an exhibition to show arctic games of the Inuit and Sami people. The event will take place Wednesday, Nov. 30 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Kindschi Hall North. Students from the Frederik Meijer Honors College will be presenting the event.

John Kilbourne, a professor of movement science at GVSU, said he expects hundreds of people to show up.

“It’s about understanding the deeper meaning of modern games, to find the deeper reasons we participate in them,” Kilbourne said.

He said the students in his class have prepared the entire semester for this event. Students have done an activity each week to prepare themselves mentally as well. They have carved animals, made snow goggles and done vocal and drum singing. Kilbourne said this was all done for the students to better understand the culture of the people.

Once this was accomplished, the students could begin the work of creating the game they were assigned. The exhibition setup hasn’t been just making games and singing, though.

“The exhibition is meant to show the games and culture of the people,” said Jacob Metcalfe, a student working on the exhibition. “The information of the culture is not often thought about.”

Some of the events include a high kick, handicrafts, harpooning, sled racing and 16 more events. One of the events known as the “bone game,” is similar to the ball-and-cup game where the objective is to swing the ball on a rope into the cup. Other events are much more dangerous, such as a bow and arrow demonstration. Visitors will also be able to see traditional jewelry, Inuit dolls and more.

Reindeer will also be brought in and on display in an open field near the stations. Elsa Hippe, another student working on the exhibition, said the hope is that people will see the games Inuit and Sami used to play and find similarities with the games they play.

“It’s about making, using your hands, getting in touch with your playful side,” Kilbourne said. “It’s important to preserve your child-likeness.”

The students working on the exhibition had to first research each assigned game thoroughly, Kilbourne said. They then had to build it and be ready to explain how to play it.

For example, one student has crafted a knife similar to one used by Inuit and Sami people and will have it on display. The student had to make the knife on his own and will cut cucumbers to show just how sharp it is.

Kilbourne said that in the past years of this event, hundreds of school visitors, students and friends all show up to the exhibition. He encouraged everyone to experience the hands-on games.