2008 North American Indigenous Games Coming to Cowichan Article By Myles Zacharias

North American Indigenous Games

The 2008 North American Indigenous Games are growing this year in the Cowichan Valley. This event, developing every year since its inception in 1990, drew over ten thousand people to Colorado last year. This year busy organizers and an army of volunteers are expecting twenty thousand to visit the warm land (or “Cowichan” in the local language Hul’qumi’num).

The famous Tribal Journey canoes should be off now. This journey is taken by a group of more than eighty canoes traveling for two weeks to the 2008 NAIG. The spectacle of their arrival (on July 28th) into the beautiful Cowichan Bay, for the games August 3–10, is a deeply meaningful event for many, but perhaps especially so for those that will be there to perform the traditional Coast Salish welcoming ceremony.

Communities stretching across all boundaries of Turtle Island (North America) are represented in these olympic style competitive games. Communities from Nunavut to New York, Oregon to Nova Scotia, have trained together for much fierce and friendly competition in field and box lacrosse, soccer, volleyball, archery, canoe races, basketball, badminton, running, golf, rifle shooting, wrestling, swimming and softball. The much-anticipated opening ceremonies will reveal a mainstage ready for a week of free cultural performances including the diverse sounds of blues, jazz, classical violin, and spoken word. The Tzinquaw Dancers are global ambassadors of the Cowichan Tribes, and they will be dancing in full force to the rhythm of their own earth shaking chants and beats at both opening and closing ceremonies.

At the opening ceremonies a Spirit Pole project that has acquired an inspiring amount of momentum will be revealed. This traditional Totem (has been transformed from an old growth cedar that fell in Stanley Park during the “great storm of 2006”. It has been transformed by thousands of people from forty-five communities up and down B.C. This is a project conceived and led by a young artist named Carey Newman.

The Cowichan International Aboriginal Film Festival is showing twenty-one hours of film from around the world. The films will be put forth for all to see at huge outdoor screenings, and in the beautiful Cowichan Theatre also.