FAIRBANKS — Alaska Native mushing icon George Attla says he wants to see a revival of his sport among young people in villages.
“Years ago, there was a lot of pride in our dog mushing,” Attla said Tuesday at the First Alaskans Institute Elders and Youth Conference.
“We’re hoping to bring some of that back to the state of Alaska,” he said.
In his mushing career, Attla won the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous World Championship title eight times and the Open North American Championship 10 times.
He told the conference crowd that there was a time when villages put together dog teams to compete in such races. Attla said sometimes each racing dog was contributed by a different person in the community, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
The three-day conference kicked off Monday and precedes the annual convention of the Alaska Federation of Natives that begins Thursday and runs through Saturday.
In his talk, Attla said someone once offered him $5,000 for one of his dogs. The man making the offer said he wanted to be associated with a winning dog team.
Today, Attla teaches mushing to students in the village of Huslia through the Frank Attla Youth and Sled Dog Care Mushing program. The program, which is named after his son, started last year and is run with volunteers and with dog food donated by a manufacturer.
Attla said he is hoping to persuade the state to add the program to the school curriculum in Huslia. He also hopes to see competitive youth dog mushing programs take off around Alaska.