Have you ever heard of the World Indigenous Games – a new version of the Olympics? A few people seem to be aware of the newest intercultural event on the global sports calendar. Last year, it was Brazil that hosted the first-ever World Indigenous Games in the city of Palmas. More than 2,000 indigenous athletes from 30 countries participated in the ten-day competition that kicked off on October 23 to November 1, 2015.
The games are under motivation to unite and compete fairly across a variety of traditional sporting activities. Throughout the first three days, athletes mingle and bond in their area of sport/games before entering the competition. The organization that oversees the games is called the Inter-Tribal Council, which is a Brazilian indigenous peoples’ NGO that has annually organized Brazil’s national Indigenous Games since 1996.
Participating countries included; Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Ecuador, Ethiopia, French Guiana, Guatemala, Mexico, and Mongolia. Others were New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Russia, USA, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
Throughout history, the indigenous tribes around the world have had many traditional sports accompanied by cultural dances. It is through their rich heritage that they have turned these into competitive games and have made it have an influential impact on the world and their people’s culture.
The event also known as the Indigenous Olympics is similar to any other Olympic games. They start with a variety of sports, traditional opening, and closing ceremonies with exclusively indigenous participants from all over the world.
The games’ main feature includes the traditional body paint that replaces the modern sportswear, bare feet instead of sneakers and a looser conception of competition that comes with little value to winning. For a very long time, body painting has been an ancient tradition that carries deep meaning and value to the different tribes around the world.
This art contains a high-spirited significance to the indigenous people thus the reason why they must wear body paint during the games. It is also a sign of respect for their land and while representing all their people in unity. Different designs represent different family relationship, social position, tribe, ancestors and tracts of land, etc.
The indigenous Games involve many sporting events and competitions. These include Western-style competitions such as football and athletics as well as many traditional games like wrestling, the world-tree hunk, rustic race, archery, spear toss, traditional canoeing, tug of war, swimming, corrida de tora, and Xikunahati.
There are also a huge number of events that are non-competitive. This is done to demonstrate the respect for heritage. It is done by playing traditional sports and celebrating with dances. Many other non-competitive events showcase the celebration of their culture. They include this in the games by forming social forums, activities for the indigenous women and lectures and fairs for all to join and then listen. The main reason for the games is to bring all indigenous people together from around the world with a concept of creating a global village in which cultural tolerance becomes the main point of interest.