Indigenous Games Prove Archery's
Roots are Amazing! Indigenous Games Prove Archery's Roots are Amazing!

Bows and arrows pre-date 3500 B.C., when Egyptians used bronze arrowheads and “long” bows. Literally! Their bows apparently were as tall as the archers themselves! Across history from Egyptians to Assyrians to Native Americans indigenous people (those native to their country) popularized the bow and arrow for battle and hunting.

Brazil hosted the inaugural World Indigenous Games in November 2015 to celebrate native cultures and people from around the world. And barebow archery was a prominent event. Felicia Chischilly, a Navajo from New Mexico, described the Games as “a powwow in the true sense of the word — a gathering of nations.”

 Photo Credit: Eraldo Peres

Photo Credit: Eraldo Peres

More than 2,000 athletes represented 23 countries in the Games, which consisted of modern and traditional, and competitive and noncompetitive sporting events, including archery, football, canoeing, spear tossing and tug of war, to name a few.

“Most events were led by the indigenous peoples themselves,” according to the New Delhi Times. “And together it created a festival that brought together the diversity represented in the Games from indigenous cultures (around) the world.”

Brazilian Gaviao, from the Gavião Peixoto municipality in the state of São Paulo, shot flaming arrows to light the torch at the opening ceremony.

Photo Credit: Eraldo Peres

Photo Credit: Eraldo Peres

Archery competitors went “bowfishing” with a fish-shaped target.

Photo Credit: Ueslei Marcelino

Photo Credit: Ueslei Marcelino

Members of 24 Brazilian tribes, including the Bororo, an indigenous people from the state of Mato Grosso, competed in the Games.

 Photo Credit: Ueslei Marcelino

Photo Credit: Ueslei Marcelino

Fifty Maori, native people from New Zealand, attended the games.

Photo Credit: Eraldo Peres

Photo Credit: Eraldo Peres

The Mongols shared the rich history of the Mongol bow, a composite recurve bow whose origin and military effectiveness date to Genghis Khan’s reign.

Photo Credit: Ueslei Marcelino

Photo Credit: Ueslei Marcelino

Seventy athletes from Mexico competed in the Games, including this archer.

 Photo Credit: Ueslei Marcelino

Photo Credit: Ueslei Marcelino

Nineteen Native Americans represented the United States.

Photo Credit: Eraldo Peres

Photo Credit: Eraldo Peres

Overall, the Games were a celebration of cultures and the sport we know and love.

Photo Credit: World Indigenous Games

Photo Credit: World Indigenous Games

To learn more about archery as a part of native culture, check out this piece about Bhutan, where archery is the national sport.

Curious about the Games’ other sports? Experience them through pictures!

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