The fourth North American Indigenous Games were held in Victoria, British Columbia, August 3-8, 1997

9 provinces/territories, 17 states participated Australia and New Zealand participated, making the Games truly international There were over 8,000 participants, both cultural and athletic 16 sporting events and a full cultural calendar, including a Tribal Journey and a Cultural Village

The fourth North American Indigenous Games were held in Victoria, British Columbia, August 3-8, 1997

9 provinces/territories, 17 states participated

  • Australia and New Zealand participated, making the Games truly international
  • There were over 8,000 participants, both cultural and athletic
  • 16 sporting events and a full cultural calendar, including a Tribal Journey and a Cultural Village

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Opening Ceremonies

North American Indigenous Games

Photo: Rick Brant

© Rick Brant, 1997


The 1997 Tribal Journey started in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, two-and-a-half weeks before the Games began; it was the fourth Tribal Journey Over 50 traditional Aboriginal canoes from First Nations communities in British Columbia and Washington took part, led by Chief Frank Nelson Traveled through 15 First Nations with whom they celebrated and shared their customs and songs Seen as key reflection time: "We came to Victoria on behalf of our ancestors. And that takes a lot of strength and courage of all the people, all the young people that were able to commit themselves to two-and-a-half weeks out on the water, and basically able to allow themselves to look into themselves, reflect on how it must have been for our ancestors, reflect upon what it’s going to do to you toward offering you the discipline of life."

The 1997 Tribal Journey started in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, two-and-a-half weeks before the Games began; it was the fourth Tribal Journey

  • Over 50 traditional Aboriginal canoes from First Nations communities in British Columbia and Washington took part, led by Chief Frank Nelson
  • Traveled through 15 First Nations with whom they celebrated and shared their customs and songs
  • Seen as key reflection time: "We came to Victoria on behalf of our ancestors. And that takes a lot of strength and courage of all the people, all the young people that were able to commit themselves to two-and-a-half weeks out on the water, and basically able to allow themselves to look into themselves, reflect on how it must have been for our ancestors, reflect upon what it’s going to do to you toward offering you the discipline of life."
(Chief Frank Nelson)
© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

16 sport events were contested: 3-D Archery, Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Boxing, Canoeing, Golf, Box Lacrosse, Rifle Shooting, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tae Kwon Do, Track & Field, Volleyball, Wrestling 4,500 youth athletes (ages 13-21) and 500 senior athletes (over 22) Special Olympics athletes competed for the first time in swimming and athletics Overall team champion: Saskatchewan, for the 4th time In addition to the Tribal Journey, the cultural events included: the traditional sports of Lahal, Hoop Dancing, Arctic Sports, and several festivals and Pow wows
  • 16 sport events were contested: 3-D Archery, Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Boxing, Canoeing, Golf, Box Lacrosse, Rifle Shooting, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tae Kwon Do, Track & Field, Volleyball, Wrestling
  • 4,500 youth athletes (ages 13-21) and 500 senior athletes (over 22)
  • Special Olympics athletes competed for the first time in swimming and athletics
  • Overall team champion: Saskatchewan, for the 4th time
  • In addition to the Tribal Journey, the cultural events included: the traditional sports of Lahal, Hoop Dancing, Arctic Sports, and several festivals and Pow wows

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

The sports and cultural events

North American Indigenous Games

Video: Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon

© Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon 1997


Plans are announced for the fifth Games to be held in Fargo, North Dakota, in 1999.

"[The] continuing challenge is to maintain a balance in expressing our Indigenous sport and our lifestyles within the sport itself: the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. . . A great forum to teach who we are as a People."
Plans are announced for the fifth Games to be held in Fargo, North Dakota, in 1999.

"[The] continuing challenge is to maintain a balance in expressing our Indigenous sport and our lifestyles within the sport itself: the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. . . A great forum to teach who we are as a People."
(Alex Nelson, CEO)
© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Closing Ceremonies

The vision will continue

"So the Games end! As people come together, and now the gathering is done. It comes together again in two years for the next Indigenous Games in Fargo, North Dakota."
(Alex Nelson)

Video: Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon

© Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon 1997


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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