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Native Sun News: Tribal college students off to indigenous games

Pictured from left are David Swank, Savannah Rhyan Chavez, Miranda Marie Sees The Ground and Tye LaFranier.

1st World Indigenous Peoples Games set for Palmas, Brazil this month
By Clara Caufield
Native Sun News Correspondent

LAME DEER, Mont. –– Later in October 2015 the first World's indigenous People’s Games will take place at Palmas, Brazil.

Young people from Northern Cheyenne and Crow, Montana will be among about 35 Native Americans who will attend and compete in this international event, the “first of its kind,” said Dr. David Yarlott, Crow, President Little Big Horn College.

“This is history in the making,” he noted. “The first time that indigenous people will celebrate our traditions of games and sports common to North and South America, often related to survival.”

In the planning for two years, the Games were brain child of tribal college leaders Dr. Richard Littlebear, President of Chief Dull Knife College, Northern Cheyenne and Dr. David Yarlott, President Little Big Horn College, Crow.

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“We are hoping to bring indigenous students from the world together to discuss and recognize common issues and concerns, while encouraging unity,” Little Bear explained.

Five people from Chief Dull Knife College will represent the College, the Northern Cheyenne people, and all the Native Americans of North America at Palmas, Brazil for the First World Indigenous People’s Games. Approximately 30-35 people from the United States will participate in these games, representing Tribal Colleges and Universities and from larger mainstream institutions which have high Native American student enrollments. Participants will depart October 17, 2015, returning November 3, 2015.

These games are designed to emulate the International Olympic Games; the big difference being a non-competitive nature, meaning that athletes will participate mainly to establish camaraderie and good will among the world’s native people. The participants will engage in archery, spear-throwing, log-carrying, tug-of-war, swimming, canoeing, running, and other sports.

The Chief Dull Knife College contingent consists of Savannah Rhyan Chavez Charette; Tye Lafaughn LaFranier; Miranda Marie Sees The Ground; Darrin David Swank and Dr. Richard E. Littlebear. Four are listed as athletes while Dr. Littlebear is a member of the Advisory Council. Savannah, Tye, Miranda, and Darrin participated in the qualifying rounds earlier this past summer, met the academic requirements, and are highly athletic, diligently practicing for the Games.

The Little Big Horn College will be represented by: Aldan Good Luck (female staff and contestant); Tiana Iron Horse (female student and contestant); Melton Spotted Bear, Jr. (contestant); Jolene Spotted Bear (contestant); Calvin Nomee (contestant); Elvis Old Bear, Jr (contestant); Teri McCormick (community member, alumni and contestant); Kenneth Depute, Jr. (contestant) and Dr.Yarlott, Advisory Committee member.

The World Indigenous Games grew out of the annual Indigenous Peoples' Games. Photo from Twitter

Yarlott explained that he designed a special class at Little Big Horn College this year, “Global Indigenous Leadership," required for all aspiring participants. As part of that assignment, Crow team members will create a Facebook page to follow the games on a daily basis, each making required posts. Students from both colleges have also made appropriate arrangements for the classes they will miss during the event.

Dr. Littlebear, along with Dr. David Yarlott of Little Big Horn College, are original members of the planning Council for the Games. This committee started meeting two years ago in Cuiaba, Brazil. At Chief Dull Knife College three highly involved staff members included Michelle Spang, Zane Spang, and Paula Wolf Black who planned the qualifying activities, organized practice venues, guided the demanding passport and visa application processes, and made the complicated travel arrangements to and from Palmas, Brazil for all five people. Dr. James Hafer, whose endowment program helped partially fund the expenses for this cross-cultural venture, has also instrumental for making this student adventure possible.

First World Indigenous People’s Games will be very informative and educational for the students and they are eagerly anticipating engaging in activities in a foreign country with many foreign languages and many foreign people from all parts of the world. The CDKC students will be demonstrating some of their own Northern Cheyenne Culture through a traditional hand game presentation and the Crow students will also have cultural presentations.

(Clara Caufield can be reached at

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