Games within Games

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Many Indigenous-only multi-sport events (or Games) in Canada comprise mainly modern Western sport forms, as opposed to traditional Indigenous games. Yet these same sport forms were used in oppressive, assimilative, “sport for colonization” processes to marginalize traditional games and Indigenous culture throughout the settler-colonial period. In this sense, as means to self-determination, cultural agency, and Indigenous-settler reconciliation, Indigenous Games (such as the North American Indigenous Games or Arctic Winter Games) can be viewed as sites of both repression and resistance. As such, a critical reflection of games within Games is needed to understand the tensions in contemporary Indigenous physical culture. Focusing on the Canadian context, this essay provides a commentary of the struggle for legitimacy, sportification process, and reconciliatory nature of traditional games within Indigenous Games.