Opening Ceremonies

Willie Littlechild, Honorary President, 1990 Opening Ceremonies, Edmonton, Alberta.

The dream becomes a reality

"A dream has become a reality. A dream that started about 13 years ago in a foreign land, in Sweden. . . May honest effort and fair play be your guiding principles. Compete in the spirit of our elders. Also, recalling in mind the Great Spirit in whose name I play today. Let the North American Indigenous Games begin!"
(Willie Littlechild)

Keyah Productions
Video: North American Indigenous Games Council, 1990 NAIG Host Society 1990

© Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon 1990


The first North American Indigenous Games were held in Edmonton, Alberta, July 1-8, 1990 They were held in association with the National Indian Athletic Association They attracted approximately 3000 sport participants and 37 cultural groups from Indigenous Peoples/Nations across Canada and the United States The arrow presented to Willie Littlechild in Sweden was carried during the ceremonial run from Wyoming to Edmonton

The first North American Indigenous Games were held in Edmonton, Alberta, July 1-8, 1990

  • They were held in association with the National Indian Athletic Association
  • They attracted approximately 3000 sport participants and 37 cultural groups from Indigenous Peoples/Nations across Canada and the United States
  • The arrow presented to Willie Littlechild in Sweden was carried during the ceremonial run from Wyoming to Edmonton

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Opening Ceremonies

1990 NAIG Opening Ceremonies, Edmonton, Alberta

Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon

© Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon 1990


Opening Ceremonies

1990 NAIG Opening Ceremonies

The purpose and spirit of the Games:

"I’d like to welcome all of you, all the different nations that are here, and greet all our brothers and sisters from the United States and from across Canada. This is, without a doubt, one of the historical moments in the history of Native people, of Aboriginal people in North America. And we hope this is a start of something very tremendous that will bring us together, help heal our wounds and help make us a strong people."

(Kahnawake Grand Chief Joe Norton)

Keyah Productions

© Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon 1990


Opening Ceremonies

Alwyn Morris, 1984 Kayak Gold Medal Olympian, 1990 NAIG Opening Ceremonies

Traduction de la vidéo :

The purpose and spirit of the Games:

"Through the fire of our will we look to the future. Through the spirit of warrior in our hearts we have great vision of tomorrow. We struggle through prayers and sacrifices to achieve our goals, a moment of victory, a moment of glory, like that of athletes of old. Like the first peoples of this great land, we have to overcome all obstacles to achieve harmony within ourselves."
(Alwyn Morris, 1984 Olympic gold medal, Kayak)

Keyah Productions

© Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon 1990


Few Indigenous Peoples compete in mainstream sport, especially youth

The NAIG is an opportunity for Indigenous youth across North America to: compete in 15 sports: Archery, Basketball, Boxing, Canoeing, Golf, Box Lacrosse, Marathon, Rifle Shooting, Rodeo, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Track & Field, Volleyball, Wrestling prepare for sporting events such as Provincial and Canada Games celebrate their heritage

Overall team champion: Saskatchewan

Adult Indigenous participants competed in select sport events, such as the marathon

The cultural component enhanced the overall NAIG spirit. "..it was seen as an integral part of who we are as a People." (Cheryl McLean, Team Yukon organizer) Thirty-seven cultural groups came from across North America to share their Indigenous cultures and traditions. Events included Throat Singers, hoop and square dancers, Pow wows, Arctic Sports and Dene Winter Games demonstrations, food and craft fairs, and war canoe race demonstrations Read More

Few Indigenous Peoples compete in mainstream sport, especially youth

The NAIG is an opportunity for Indigenous youth across North America to:

  • compete in 15 sports: Archery, Basketball, Boxing, Canoeing, Golf, Box Lacrosse, Marathon, Rifle Shooting, Rodeo, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Track & Field, Volleyball, Wrestling
  • prepare for sporting events such as Provincial and Canada Games
  • celebrate their heritage

Overall team champion: Saskatchewan

Adult Indigenous participants competed in select sport events, such as the marathon

The cultural component enhanced the overall NAIG spirit. "..it was seen as an integral part of who we are as a People." (Cheryl McLean, Team Yukon organizer)

  • Thirty-seven cultural groups came from across North America to share their Indigenous cultures and traditions. Events included Throat Singers, hoop and square dancers, Pow wows, Arctic Sports and Dene Winter Games demonstrations, food and craft fairs, and war canoe race demonstrations
  • Elders came to talk about their languages and to share stories; their strong support helped make the Games a success
  • The spiritual ceremonies, especially the prayers, were an integral factor in the Games’ success

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Some of the sporting and cultural events

Some of the sporting and cultural events

Keyah Productions "Indigenous Games - First Ever - 1990 Edmonton, Alberta"

© Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon 1990


During one of the 1990 Games daily debriefing meetings, Eugene Arcand, from and on behalf of Saskatchewan, requested to hold the next Games in 1994. Permission was granted. Sometime later, the United Nations announced that 1993 would be the Year of Indigenous People. Hence, the next Games were moved forward to 1993, to be held in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
During one of the 1990 Games daily debriefing meetings, Eugene Arcand, from and on behalf of Saskatchewan, requested to hold the next Games in 1994. Permission was granted. Sometime later, the United Nations announced that 1993 would be the Year of Indigenous People. Hence, the next Games were moved forward to 1993, to be held in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Cheryl McLean

The 3,000 competitors and the 37 cultural groups speak to the importance of the NAIG: "We now have athletes going onto the Canada Games that wouldn't have been found if it wasn't for the NAIG . . . . there is a need for this type of activity to take place on a regular basis." (Cheryl McLean, Team Yukon organizer)

Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon

© Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon 1990


Chester Kelly

Will the vision continue? "I think if you have some continuation . . . it gives [the athletes] some focus to excel in the next Games. . ." (Chester Kelly, Team Yukon track coach)

Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon

© Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon 1990


Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Describe the activities and events that take place at the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG)
  • Recognize the contributions of individuals to the NAIG
  • Understand the benefits of the NAIG to Aboriginal society

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