I made it to Palmas, Brazil for the World Indigenous Games. Two weeks ago I didn’t know if I was going to make it up here for this event. I looked at my bank account and it said, “you really think you are going to buy a $200 ticket and pay for housing?”
Well, I rebuked the bank account, and said YES I AM GOING TO THE WORLD INDIGENOUS GAMES.
So I’m here. I’m working on behalf of the Cineminga NGO to gather footage on different indigenous sports. The footage will be compiled into a documentary and then sold to various outlets around the world.
The World Indigenous Games is a competition that brings together dozens of indigenous tribes from Brazil and around the world to compete in an Olympic-like competition. But these Games don’t come with the same pressure or potential payout for athletes. It’s simply about bringing together indigenous people, all of whom have lost land and suffered for the last 500 years, to showcase their culture, sports and history.
Palmas First Impressions
I like Palmas to the extent that I can like a small city with wide boulevards and blocks that take 10 minutes walk. I’m a city girl who doesn’t own a car. But after living in Rio de Janeiro for six months, Palmas is refreshing because of the following reasons: 1) visible poverty is minimal 2) there is no traffic (let’s hope people stop buying cars 3) It’s clean 4) So far the food is much better than Rio (already had some amazing Chinese food). Rio de Janeiro is definitely more beautiful, but this trip to Palmas came at the right time for me. The reason this city seems to work, may be because it was created in 1988 á la Brasilia. That year it became the capital of the newly formed state of Tocantins, which must have been just small towns in the interior of Brazil back then.
Palmas doesn’t have many hotels and the hotels were slightly out of my budget so I opted to rent an AIRBNB room in town. I have my own suite in the house of a wonderful family who have already helped me so much in just two days. They’ve picked me up from the airport, driven me to the mall, driven me to the stadium and I’ve had some wonderful conversations with the son of the family. Yaay for AIRBNB! The only problem is that I might spend just as much money getting back and forth to the stadium as I spent on my AIRBNB. *sigh*
President Dilma Rousseff made her first visit ever to Palmas for the Opening Ceremony of the Games. These days, protesters against her government show up wherever she is. Brazil is indeed in a political and economic crisis and many people believe that Rousseff Worker’s party is the reason the country is going through the turmoil. I attended a small protest in Palmas thinking that the people would address some of the issues of the indigenous people, but all they wanted to talk about was how they wanted Rousseff impeached.
World Indigenous Games Accreditation
I messed up on this one. Accreditation for the Indigenous Games closed on September 25 and they have been unwilling give it to me. Access to the Games are free, but I wanted accreditation so I could have a safe place to work with some reliable internet. This experience has taught me to be on top of this stuff. I’m going to go back to Rio de Janeiro and apply for media accreditation to every event for the next YEAR!
A Team from America is HERE!
The highlight of my trip so far has been interviewing the American team, many of whom are from Montana. The team of 19 people come from the following tribes: Crow, Northern Cheyenne, Navejo, Apache/Comanche, Lummi and Salt St. Marie and Sac & Fox. The leader of the delegation is Dr. David Yarlott Jr. He is the President of Little Big Horn College in Crow country Montana. He has been working with the Inter Tribal Council for the last two years to bring an American team to the World Indigenous Games. I had the opportunity to interview (on video) several of the athletes. I even filmed one young lady, Savannah Charette, dressing up in her tribal clothes for the opening ceremony. Unfortunately, my internet connection is so slow, no one will be seeing these videos in the next day.
Stadium and Opening Ceremony
Would you believe me if I told you that I think I’ve only seen indigenous people in Brazil once in my life? That’s why this trip is so special. I’m seeing people in their traditional clothing in Palmas. Right before the Olympic Ceremony, I saw 50 people from the Pataxó tribe in Bahia walk into the stadium. The men had yellow-tinted paint on their skin. Both the men and women wore headdresses on their head. See the photos and videos below.
I’ll keep you updated as the trip progresses. Make sure to follow the Cineminga Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/cineminga
Also follow my Twitter account at http://twitter.com/kiratiana.