Thousands of Athletes to Take Part in World Indigenous Games

May 2nd, 2015 | By | Category: 26-4: Tribal College Governance, Tribal College News

Archery will be one of the many competitions featured at the first World Indigenous Games. The event will afford TCU students the unique opportunity to meet and interact with Indigenous peoples from Brazil and scores of other countries. Photo by David Yarlott Jr.

Tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) in the United States and Canada have been formally invited to take part in the first World Indigenous Games this fall. The event will be held September 18–27 in Palmas, Brazil. Organizers from the games’ Inter Tribal Committee (ITC) expect thousands of Indigenous athletes from more than 30 countries on five continents to participate and estimate that some 100,000 visitors will attend to observe this monumental event.

Like the Olympic Games, the two-week event is as much about cultural dialogue and good will as it is about competition. “The World Indigenous Games . . . will contribute to preserve the heritage and value the identity of many different Indigenous cultures, and are supported by many international leaders,” ITC officials state. “Respecting all the cultural and ritual aspects, the action, colors, strength, and courage of these men and women deserve to be shown worldwide and, for this, we count on the support of international broadcasting networks.”

The games will begin with two days of ceremonies in an effort to build solidarity and bridges between the world’s Indigenous peoples. The games will begin on the third day and include events such as archery, spear throwing, canoeing, swimming, and cross-country running. Athletes can also take part in the corrida rústica, a 100-meter barefoot sprint, and the corrida de tora, a relay race where runners carry a log over their shoulders.

ITC officials reached out to TCU leaders last year when Little Big Horn College president David Yarlott Jr. and Chief Dull Knife College president Richard Littlebear attended the Brazilian Indigenous Games. The ITC has given TCUs initial preference to send athletes. Yarlott and Littlebear have proposed that each tribal college send one female and one male athlete. Total cost for the trip may vary, depending on airfare and accommodation expenses. The ITC has offered accommodations for TCU athletes at a communal camp where they will share living quarters with other Indigenous peoples from around the world.

“This is a unique opportunity for some of our tribal college students to participate in the first ever World Indigenous Games,” Yarlott says. “Think about the experiences that they will have: meeting, interacting, and competing with Indigenous peoples from 30 countries, and no telling how many tribal nations. It will be a wonderful educational experience abroad for the students.”


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