Brazil’s First World Indigenous Games Highlights Indigenous Cultures from Around the World

The first World Indigenous Games are wrapping up this weekend in South America. Indigenous people from all over the world have converged on Palmas, Brazil to participate in a sporting event similar to the Olympics. But you won’t find volleyball or water polo there – the sports are all rooted in indigenous culture. Check out the photos.

2,000 athletes participated – both men and women. 22 countries were represented.

Standing strong. Standing #Indigenous. #WorldIndigenousGames #Lummi #Nation #JMPI2015

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Athletes from Russia and Ethiopia competed along side those from China and Brazil. All of Brazil’s indigenous tribes were represented at the World Indigenous Games.

Tribes got the chance to showcase their native garb and dance during the opening ceremony.

PALMAS, BRAZIL - OCTOBER 23: An indigenous man takes part in the opening ceremony of the first World Games for Indigenous Peoples in Palmas on October 23, 2015 in Palmas, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
Credit: Buda Mendes / Getty

Traditional indigenous music pulsed through the games for the past week.

#brazil #worldindigenousgames #indigenousgames #brazil2015 #brasil2015 #brazil #amazon #amazonia #Philippines

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And there were all kinds of events that took place in what has been marketed as the indigenous Olympics.

There was tug-o-war…

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Jikunahati…

<> on October 26, 2015 in Palmas, Brazil.
Credit: Buda Mendes / Getty

Jikunahati is a form of soccer that is played using ones head rather than the feet.

Blowpiping…

PALMAS, BRAZIL - OCTOBER 27: An indigenous man from the Matis tribe demonstrates the use of a blowpipe during the first World Games for Indigenous Peoples on October 27, 2015 in Palmas, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
Credit: Buda Mendes / Getty

And, of course, the World Indigenous Games wouldn’t be complete without canoeing.

PALMAS, BRAZIL - OCTOBER 27: A Brazilian indigenous native practices canoeing during the first World Indigenous Games on October 25, 2015 in Palmas, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
Credit: Buda Mendes / Getty

Though the waters in Brazil aren’t known to be the cleanest.

There was also an indigenous beauty contest where each culture was highlighted for its beauty.

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Credit: @XHNews / Twitter

The 9-day event was not just about competition.

Many of the participants and spectators took this event to share and learn from each other’s tribes.

And it wasn’t just fun and games.

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Several indigenous people of Brazil protested during one night of events, causing the competitions to end early.

Some 200 indigenous people protested in the arena against PEC215.

PEC215 is a controversial bill that is directly impacting the indigenous people of Brazil.

PEC215 is a bill, that if passed, would give Brazil’s Congress the power to make decisions about land on behalf of indigenous people. Protestors believe the bill would effectively take away their voice.

After the protests, the World Indigenous Games resumed and athletes took to the fields the next day.

Women's 100M race. As brasileiras dominaram. #worldindigenousgames #jogosindigenas

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What do you think about the World Indigenous Games? Share this story with your friends to show them how badass indigenous culture can be.

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