Colorado’s Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes are sponsoring
an Olympics-style competition expected to bring 8,000 athletes from tribes
across the United States and Canada to the Denver area in July.
The eight-day North American Indigenous Games will start with July 2 opening
ceremonies at Invesco Field at Mile High, with associated cultural events at
the nearby Denver Performing Arts Complex through the week, said Ute
Mountain Ute member Bob Roybal, who leads the team bringing the games to Colorado.
The Ute tribes are paying $1.2 million to sponsor the games after the North
American Indigenous Games council took the 2005 games away from Buffalo,
N.Y., because the local committee fell behind schedule, Roybal said. The games
alternate between Canada and the United States.
“There is a lot of pressure for it to happen in the United States and for it
to happen now,” he said.
Up to 100,000 spectators could travel to Colorado for the event, giving
Denver a chance to prove it could handle other large sports events, Roybal said.
Athletes will compete in 16 events such as basketball, archery, boxing,
soccer, volleyball, golf, canoeing and lacrosse in venues scattered around
Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs. Teams are organized by state, not by tribe.
Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded in several age categories.
“Basketball is probably going to be our best sport,” said McKean Walton,
recreation manager for the Southern Ute tribe and a leader of the team bringing
the games to Colorado. “We have a lot of good, talented players.”
Walton and Roybal hope to find 200 athletes to compete for Colorado, twice
as many as the last games in 2002 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Officials are hoping to muster an army of about 4,000 volunteers, said Jon
Schmieder, executive director of the Metro Denver Sports Commission.
Along with the games, organizers are planning for a cultural village at the
Denver Performing Arts Complex with arts and crafts, performances and a film