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Native American Olympic Team Foundation in the Press!



                                                                                                   by Olympic Skier Suzy Chaffee celebrating the Greeks for their greatest gift to peace, joy and health, in history - The Olympic Games... and the French for reviving the Olympics in 1896, Olympians from seven countries honored Native Americans at Athens for inventing the roots of 10 Olympics Sports, at the site of the first Modern Games.  A group of about 75 Olympians and their families and spectators there also hailed the contributions of other tribal peoples around the world.

The American Indians helped invent soccer (kicking a ball for days with wider goals), ice and field hockey, canoeing, kayaking, overhand swimming stroke (in paintings), baseball, basketball, tobogganing (sled sports), and the three day marathon for spiritual and messenger purposes. 'The People' of Turtle Island (America's 500 Nations) were the first to invent team sports as healing ceremonies and a substitute for war. "While the 'civilized' world played war games, our tribal men, women and children were settling disputes playing team sports with long bats and lacrosse sticks," said Grand Master Lacrosse Champion, Oren Lyons, Chief of the Onondaga Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy.
"The French Jesuits arriving in the 1500's, renamed the Iroquois (medicine) game 'lacrosse' (like Bishop's Crosier), yet our sports are so old that no one knows how far back they go. Baseball, which evolved from the tribal bat and ball, or long ball, is still played with an eight person team," said Lyons, who was inducted into the International Scholar Athletes Hall of Fame in 2003. Louis Sokalexis, a Maine Penobscot, was considered by many the greatest baseball player (Cleveland) in 1898.

"Basketball evolved from an ancient Mayan-Aztec game and lacrosse. The South American tribes first threw or kicked a rubber ball (they invented) through a vertical hoop in an outdoor court," said Vaspra. As a way to keep his lacrosse team in shape and interested indoors, during harsh winters, YMCA coach James Naismith in 1891, took away the sticks, got an inflatable rubber ball, tied two peach "baskets" to the upper track of the gymnasium, and used the similar free flowing moves as lacrosse, according to Thomas Vennum, retired head ethnologist at Washington's Smithsonian.

Woody Vaspra, President of the World Council of Elders, offered these insights on the gifts of earth's oldest tribes, gathered from a tapestry of oral traditions. "Over 100,000 years ago the tribal people of Lemuria in the Pacific (predating Atlantis), and Africa first threw rocks for survival then sport, which evolved into the shot put. Spear-throwing became the javelin, and then bow and arrow became universally adopted as the art of archery."

"The Oriental tribes, led by the Koreans in 2,333 B.C., invented martial arts .  Mastery was required of national leaders. The Middle Eastern tribes, led by the Egyptians, invented the art of fencing. I saw hieroglyphics of gymnasts in Egypt dating back over 4,000 years ago, and where the earliest Pharaohs had to do a running race in order to keep their jobs, which they said was copied from the Atlanteans.  Visiting Crete’s official Greek Olympic Exhibit at the Iraklion’s Archeological Museum, I saw paintings of the Minoan male and female bull-leaping gymnasts, and learned that the Chinese were also pioneers of tumbling/gymnastics.  The Minoans are the  4,000 year old grandmother of the Greeks, who hosted the first Olympic Games on Crete.  This advanced, joyful, peaceful, male-female balanced ancient (Goddess) Civilizations,  encouraged what became the Greek ideal or training the body and soul.  As depicted on ancient vessels, the Minoans likely invented boxing (including gloves), wrestling (anointed with slippery olive oil),  and the stadium running races. At Delphi, Greece, I learned that it was the early tribes of Greece who started the oracle that lead to the Oracle of Delphi saving the Ancient Games and their Civilization early on, by stopping all wars for several months so people could travel safely to and from the Olympic Games.  That and those who won the laurels, guided and watched over by the Elders, setting the standards of ethics in their Civilization, were why the Ancient Olympics lasted for over 1,000 years.  But the most ancient sport/physical discipline,  born in India 26,000 years ago, means in Sanskrit, to 'unite with the Universal Spirit' – Yoga.

In Modern Times, “the Hawaiians gave us surfing, which was revived by Gold Medalist swimmer, Duke Kahanamoku, after it had been outlawed by missionaries.  Though surfing and lacrosse, like yoga is not yet Olympic sports, “the Duke was recently celebrated on a U.S. postage stamp," said Vaspra, a Hawaiian professional baseball and football player. Duke's friend, Sac and Fox Jim Thorpe, the only man to win the Olympic Decathlon and Pentathlon, is revered by many as "The Greatest All Round Athlete in History."

"The polar tribes, spanning from Lapland to Siberia and Alaska invented and shared the roots of most of our favorite Winter Olympic sports, thanks to a common language in a world without boundaries. Developed first for survival, then for fun and competition, the Sami are credited for pioneering skiing and skating 5,000 years ago, and the Inuits for kayaking and their unique Winter Games. The Arctic tribes, as well as the First Nations of Canada and American Indian Nations, developed snowshoeing, cross country, canoeing, and tobogganing," said Lyons.  Later the Scandinavians invented ski jumping.

We applaud the International Olympic Committee's "Be a Champion for the Environment," which recommends we include Indigenous Peoples in the Games to enhance their sustainability. It is championed by IOC President Jacques Rogge and Prince Albert of Monaco, a Lakota-Sioux adoptee, and Native Voices Foundation Advisor (renamed Native American Olympic Team Foundation NAOTF).Bottom line: What would life be like without our favorite sports? How can we can thank and celebrate our tribal ancestors for these priceless gifts at the Modern Olympics? "By remembering their reverence for Mother Earth on whom we play, so our children's children may continue to enjoy Nature's playgrounds. And by giving back sports opportunities to our youth and including them in the Olympic Family as competitors," said Tex Hall, President of the National Congress of American Indians, a former teacher, collegiate basketball hall of famer, and co-chairman of  NAOTF.

"Indian People hope this is a time for the mending of the sacred hoop of all Nations," said Lakota Nicholas Black Elk in the 1800's, a vision he received that would take place around now. "Everything flows more harmoniously when it's in a circle," said Vaspra.

The U.S. "Discovery Channel" recently revealed a 30,000 year genetic link between the Greeks and some American Tribes. Added the World Elders' President, "Therefore it is not surprising that both cultures share the same body, mind and spirit sports philosophy, and why most tribal sports and the Ancient Greek Olympics were founded as spiritual celebrations."

For more information: "American Indian Sports Heritage" by Joseph B.Oxendine
Contact: Native American Olympic Team Foundation, ,

UPDATE ON ORIGINS OF SKIING: The 2009 World Ski Congress at Mammoth Mt, California, revealed earlier origins of skiing.  Nils Larson’s documentary, "Skiing in the Shadow of Genghis Khan," showed that skiing was invented 8,000 to10,000 years ago in the 4 Corners of Asia, by the Chinese-Mongolians as a way of hunting down big game in the mountains.  Their descendents still hand make their skis and ski the same way. Mary Ho, President of the China Millennium Council, traced the Apache-Navajo Tribes who came over the Bering Strait, to be their cousins having the same linguistics and ceremonies, and Lars found they had the same DNA markers. That is why the Apache founded New Mexico's Ski Apache 40 years ago, and why the 2010 Ski Shows honored our tribes and Wayne Wong, on behalf of the Chinese, for their gift of skiing.

For more information:, "American Indian Sports Heritage" by Joseph B.Oxendine

Contact: Native American Olympic Team Foundation, 970-9225406,

OLYMPIANS HONOR TRIBES AT ATHENS -“Best games ever," say Olympians