Brazil Hosts World Indigenous Games 2015
It seems as if Brazil is becoming the home to sports – it has hosted and is soon to host some of the world’s most prestigious sporting events. A tremendously successful 2014 FIFA World Cup will most likely be triumphed by an even grander 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. However, one event, not very common to the sporting world is set to take place in the city of Palmas, Brazil in September of 2015. It is an event so unusual yet so creative and extraordinary that it will not only present some activities that mirror mankind at its most primitive state, but also demonstrate to the world that sport can in fact be an art form – The World Indigenous Games.
What are the World Indigenous Games?
Palmas is the capital city of the state of Tocantins in Brazil and boasts a population of just over 260,000 people. The Tocantins region forms the boundary between the Amazon Rainforest and the coastal savanna, and due to the cities proximity to the rainforest, the citizens of Palmas have a very good relationship with the indigenous people. There is a general sentiment of mutual admiration and respect and therefore Palmas is a very suitable location to hold the I World Indigenous Games.
The World Indigenous Games will be showcased internationally in 2015, with the continuing hope that they will become a tradition exhibiting mankind’s greatest triumphs. However, in some ways different to the 2016 Summer Olympics, these games will not necessarily reward an individual’s athletic ability and bathe them in glory but rather explore the power and unity that exists in sports and the positive influences it can bestow upon a people. The idea for an Indigenous Games was initially envisaged by Marcos Terena’s Intertribal Council (ITC) and the event gradually evolved from the Brazilian Jogos dos Pavos Indigenas. The Games first started in 1996 and there have been 12 to date.
The World Indigenous Games will host some 2,000 athletes originating from tribes around the world. Some 30 different nations will be represented including tribes from the Americas, Japan, Australia, Russia, China, the Philippines and Norway. The Brazilians alone will send some 24 different indigenous ethnicities. The Games will start on September 18th and for the first three days the indigenous athletes will explore the city of Palmas, Brazil and have the opportunity to socialize with each other. For the following 10 days, these athletes will ‘compete’ amongst each other in a comfortable atmosphere in the hope that the integration of these separate identities will educate the world with regard to the diverse cultures and traditions that exist.
Although the Games will showcase some of the traditional sports that can be found in the regular Olympics such as football, athletics and swimming, numerous ‘native’ activities will also be included. These are largely uncompetitive yet exist so the indigenous tribesmen can present their heritage to the international community. These include ‘xikunahity’, a game similar to football yet the players are only allowed to touch the ball with their heads and the ‘Corrida de Tora’ – a wild tree-trunk race where some nine or ten runners sprint around a race track taking turns to lift a 100 kg log on their shoulders. During each individual event, the participants will largely wear traditional garments of clothing to again showcase their culture internationally. The Games, however, will not only revolve around sports – fairs, lectures and the latest Indigenous People’s Social Forum will also be present.