The dream to hold Games for the Indigenous Peoples began in the 1970's.
- In 1971, the Native Summer Games held in Enoch, Alberta drew 3,000 participants competing in 13 sports and many cultural events.
- In 1973, the Western Canada Native Winter Games were held on the Blood Reserve in Kainai, Alberta.
- In 1975, a meeting of the National Indian Athletic Association was held in Reno, Nevada, where it was decided to organize Games for Indigenous Peoples. John Fletcher, a Peigan from Edmonton, Alberta, and Willie Littlechild, a Cree of the Ermineskin Tribe at Hobbema, Alberta, attended; John Fletcher is credited for his support in the decision to have the Games, as presented by Mr. Littlechild, based on the above success.
- In 1977, the dream to host large scale Indigenous Games took another step forward in Sweden at the Annual Assembly of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples. Willie Littlechild presented the motion to host International Indigenous Games. It was unanimously passed. A Brazilian elder was so moved, he presented Willie Littlechild with a war arrow representing peace in his tribe. Advising it be pointed to the ground, this arrow would direct anything evil toward the underground. It is now part of the sacred ceremonial run.
The vision for the NAIG
The vision: To improve the quality of life for Indigenous Peoples by supporting self-determined sports and cultural activities which encourage equal access to participation in the social / cultural / spiritual fabric of the community in which they reside and which respects Indigenous distinctiveness.
"The vision of the NAIG, from the very beginning, along with my brothers, Willie Littlechild of Ermineskin First Nation at Hobbema, and Big John Fletcher of Peigan in Southern Alberta, was one of our interest and concern about what was happening among the young people in all of our communities. . . We took it upon ourselves to try and find something constructive for the young people to look forward to. And, what it was eventually, was that we would put together a plan for a Games through which the young Aboriginal people could come together to excel in their athletic field of endeavour and to come together to do other things: to make new friendships, to renew old ones, and so on..." (Charles Wood, 1990 Chairperson)
The dream became a reality in 1990 with the first Games in Edmonton, Alberta…the vision continues...
NAIG Council formation
The NAIG Council was formed between 1992 and 1993 with the help of the hosts from Edmonton, Alberta and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan along with other key individuals.
The founders of the North American Indigenous Games from Alberta, Canada in a manner consistent with their cultural traditions, handed over the governance and management of the Games to the newly formed NAIG Council.
The NAIG Council is an incorporated, non-profit organization registered in Marysville, Washington, USA. NAIG Council is also registering their non-profit status in Canada. It is governed by a board of directors and supported by its member regions from Canada and the USA.
Source: Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2002, Virtual Museums of Canada.
Lorna Arcand, Co-Chairperson, 1993 NAIG
Eugene Arcand, Chairperson, 1993 NAIG
Rick Brant, Executive Director, Aboriginal Sport Circle
Cecil Desjarlais, Co-chair, Manitoba Aboriginal Sport and Recreation Council
The Honourable Yvon Dumont, Co-chair, 2002 NAIG Host Society (Winnipeg) Inc.
Phil Fontaine, Co-chair, 2002 NAIG Host Society (Winnipeg) Inc.
Janice Forsyth, Project Coordinator, Aboriginal Sport Circle
Waneek Horn-Miller, Member Canadian Water-polo Team, 2000 Summer Olympic Games
Willie Littlechild, Honorary President, 1990 NAIG
Alwyn Morris, 1984 Summer Olympic Games, Gold and Bronze Medalist, Double Kayak
Alex Nelson, Chairperson, the NAIG Council, and fellow NAIG Council Members
Sandra Roach, Program Officer, Canadian Heritage
Dené Sinclair, Communications Manager, 2002 NAIG
Charles Wood, Founding Chairperson, 1990 NAIG