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Dena Games

These are some of the traditional games played by the indigenous, Dena (Athabascan), people of Interior Alaska, Canada and the Northern Lower 48 states.
Interested in volunteering for this event? Email your contact info & the dates you are available to 

Snow Snake

Snow Snake is a traditional game played during the winter. The game was played by men to display and practice the skill needed to hunt small game during the winter months.  The object of the game is to throw the snow snake the farthest distance along a smooth track made in the snow. In modern times both males and females compete in Snow Snake.The 'snakes' will be provided.

Hand Games

The Dene Hand Game is a guessing game where individual players or teams of players hide objects in one of their hands. The other team must guess which hand the object is in in order to score points – be careful though, points can be stolen! The game is customarily accompanied by traditional drumming and singing.

Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult.


Dena Stick Pull

This game is a test of your grip, mimicking grabbing a fish by the tail. For example; people would have to gather their fish from a fish wheel and toss the fish ashore. 

Grease/shortening is applied to a stick that has been tapered from the center to each end. Competitors then grab the stick, up to the centerline and at a given signal from the floor official attempt to pull the stick from the opponent.

Pop Scramble

The Pop Scramble is a modern addition and is just a bit of fun for youngsters.

Children are grouped by age and run to grab as much soda pop out of the snow as they can carry.

Everyone is a winner!


Snowshoe Races

Snowshoe racers using traditional handmade snowshoes are grouped by gender. They snowshoe a designated distance. The frontrunners have the extra task of breaking trail for those behind them. 

Strategy is key!

Snowshoes are not provided.

The Dena Games sponsored by WEIO are open to everyone regardless of ethnicity and all events are free to participants and visitors.

Special thanks to the Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center and the
Alaska Dog Mushers Association for hosting the events.

Thanks to Freedom Landscaping & Plowing for their sponsorship of the Snow Snake Event.
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