You have seen that the top three finishers in the race (including all their amazing sled dogs) are Alaska Native. What does that mean? Here is a definition:
American Indian or Alaska Native means a person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America, including Central America, and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment. [Source: Law Insider]
Ryan Redington, Pete Kaiser, and Richie Diehl have family ties in Alaska Native cultures.
Pete Keiser is from Bethel, Alaska, 400 miles from Anchorage. It is the biggest town in the area, with around 6, 270 people. Though it is among the biggest cities in Alaska, it is remote. The only way to visit is by plane, boat, snow machine, or dog sled! Each year, Bethel has the largest Native Arts Festival in Alaska, the Cama-l.
Richie Diehl lives in Aniak, Alaska, one of the villages near Bethel. The population there is only about 501 people. The name Aniak is Yu’pik for “the place where it comes out” meaning the Aniak River. The river was very important in the gold rush in 1900-1901.
Ryan Redington lives in Knik, Alaska. This is a larger town, about 19,000 people. Many sled dogs live in the area as well. You pronounce the first k in the name: k-nik. It comes from the Inupiaq word igniq meaning “fire.”
The Iditarod race welcomes people from all over the world, but it is nice to see the Alaskan sled-dog tradition being carried out by Alaska Natives as well!
Until next time,