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Indigenous people only make up 0.4% of Brazil's 190 million population (Serge Guiraud)

Indigenous Nations' Games begin in Brazil

9th November 2011

Representatives from over 30 ethic groups turned up to compete in the Indigenous Nations' Games in Brazil, which kicked off this week for the 11th year running

The Indigenous Nations' Games began in Porto Nacional, in the state of Tocantins in Brazil this week and will run until 12 November 2011.

The event aims to encourage the preservation and celebration of native sports, rather than stark competition. The games do not name a champion nor give ranking, rather “winners” are presented with hand-carved medals made from natural materials taken from local forests.

The games were inaugurated in 1996, and is considered to be the biggest indigenous sporting event in the world. Currently 1,400 Brazilian Indian athletes, from over 30 different ethic groups, partake in the games, but it is hoped that the event will turn international, with entrants coming from Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Ten traditional and Western events are currently incorporated into the games, with male and female categories. Native-style wrestling, in which the competitor must knock down the opponent, and the tree-trunk foot race, where runners must carry a 90kg tree trunk on their shoulders, are two popular events. Other activities include archery, swimming, river crossing, and “huka huka”, a type of soccer in which players must only use their head and not allow the ball to touch the ground.

The Brazilian government has spent over £460,000 on the event, an amount dwarfed by the billions the government plans to spend by hosting the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics.

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