By Lynda Powless
TREATY SIX TERRITORY, ALBERTA-The world peeked in and for many the World Indigenous Nations Games , that came to an end this week, provided for the first time a glimpse of historic indigenous games, some known only to their own nations.
Now a week later, 1,600 indigenous athletes head ed home after the second World Indigenous Nations Games came to a close with a week of sporting events including lacrosse, archery canoeing, spear javlin throwing and even barefoot long distance running in Treaty Six Territory near Edmonton, Alberta.
The games draw participants from the seven geopolitical regions of the world, organizers said and are the brainchild of Treaty Six Grand Chief Willie Littlechild who raised the issue at the United Nations first almost 40 years ago sparking the birth of the games with the first games held in Palmos, Brazil in 2015.
Last week more than 20,000 people attended the games held at four First Nations, the Enoch Cree First Nation, Maskwacis, Paul First Nation and Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation .
Chief Littlechild said the games (July 2 – 9th, 2017) provided the unique opportunity for Indigenous Peoples to present to the world, their centuries old traditional games, sports and cultures while reinvigorating passion and pride for sport, traditions, and culture in Indigenous Peoples.”
“I would also like to express on behalf of myself and organizers, our heartfelt gratitude to the leaders and band members of Samson Cree Nation, Ermineskin Cree Nation, Louis Bull Tribe, Montana Band, Enoch Cree Nation, and Alexis Nakota Sioux for opening up their hearts and community to the World Indigenous Nations Games 2017.
The First Nations of Enoch and Samson Cree Nation have been hosts for the Athletes Villages. Samson hosted the Opening Ceremonies, which drew an estimated 5000 people, and was also host to the International Indigenous Youth Conference. Ermineskin Cree Nation hosted the Basketball Tournament, Indian Horse Relay and Rodeo this week. Louis Bull Tribe played host to the 10km Men’s and Women’s Foot Races, with the famous Tarahumara runners from Mexico taking first and second. The Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation hosted the exciting Canoe Races, which Panama swept.
Just two weeks before the games the single venue slated to host the games fell through. Canadian government funding wasn’t approved until July 3rd, the date of the opening ceremonies.
He said First Nations themselves came to the rescue hosting events and athletes, that along with in-kind contributions made up almost 75% of the $10 to $12 million budget. First Nations he said took on the role as host with only two weeks to prepare.
The organization responsible for hosting the World Indigenous Nations (WIN) Games 2017 is WIN Sport International, a recognized non-governmental organization (NGO) with the United Nations (UN). The United Nations (UN) and the Organization of American States (OAS) and international sport organizations have been providing international recognition and promotion of the WIN Games.
Chief Littlechild will be reporting on the event to the UN. A decision on where the third World Indigenous Nations Games has not been made,
By Lynda Powless