Less than a year before the 2016 Summer Olympics kick off in Rio de Janeiro, thousands of athletes have flocked to Brazil to participate in a totally different sort of competition: the World Indigenous Games, a nine-day tournament billed as the Olympics of the indigenous world.
The first-ever World Indigenous Games attracted more than 2,000 athletes from 20-plus countries. It featured competitions that included spear throwing, tug-of-war, and xikunahati
, or "head soccer." Performances and competitions highlighting cultural traditions, including a parade of indigenous women in traditional dress, were also part of the lineup.
Women played a major role in the games — competing, cheering, and participating in cultural events or demonstrations. Some tribes were expected to send delegations that were mostly female, one representative told Refinery29 via email.
The event in the Amazon city of Palmas wasn't all fun and games, however. Some activists staged protests
over the Brazilian government's treatment of indigenous people and their right to land.
But even with some discord, the games succeeded in putting the beauty and strength of indigenous nations in the spotlight. And many applauded the effort to bring people from across the globe together to celebrate their cultures.
"It's a powwow in the true sense of the word — a gathering of nations," Felicia Chischilly, a Navajo woman from New Mexico, told the Associated Press.
The games officially wrapped on Sunday. But no need to be too bummed if you missed out on the action this year. Canada is expected to host another gathering in 2017. In the meantime, click through to see stunning photos of the female athletes who gave it their all at the World Indigenous Games.