Latin American Indigenous Communities Compete in the ‘Other’ Copa América

Sorteo de la Copa Americana de Pueblos Indigenas. Foto en Flickr del usuario  Municipalidad de Peñalolén (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Selection of the groups for the first stage of American Cup of Indigenous Communities . Photo on Flickr by user Peñalolén City Hall (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

From July 16 to July 25, Chile is hosting the first edition of the Copa América of Indigenous Communities. The tournament began on the heels of the Copa América, the continent's most important football tournament, which host country Chile won.

The teams that are taking part in this cup come from eight Latin American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru.

The website Red Deporte Para el Cambio Social (Sports Network for Social Change) reported on the purpose of the Copa América of Indigenous Communities:

Este campeonato es el primer gran evento que involucra a selecciones indígenas del continente. Busca constituir una instancia deportiva, destinada a resaltar la cultura, valores y tradiciones de los pueblos indígenas de América, además de confraternizar y estrechar los lazos de amistad mediante la práctica deportiva, siendo este el mensaje central asociado a su organización y desarrollo.

This tournament is the first big event that involves indigenous teams from the continent. It aims to become a sporting institution, with the purpose of highlighting the culture, values and traditions of American indigenous communities, in addition to strengthen the bonds of friendship through sport, this being the core message linked to its organization and growth.

As early as in last January there were mentions of the football tournament, as seen on the website Taco Mundial:

Más allá de la Copa América 2015 organizada por la Conmebol en Chile, el país sudamericano también será escenario de la Copa Indoamericana o la llamada Copa América de los pueblos originarios, que se disputará en las últimas semanas de abril o en las primeras de mayo y cuyo evento es patrocinado por el Gobierno de Michelle Bachelet […].

Furthermore, the 2015 Copa América, organized by the Conmebol in Chile, the South American country will also host the Copa América of Indigenous Communities, which will be held in late April or early May, an event that is sponsored by Michelle Bachelet's Administration […].

But not everyone thought the Copa América of Indigenous Communities was a good idea. The Katarista Indianist Movement, whose main purpose, according to its Twitter profile, is the liberation and self-affirmation of the Aymara people, dissents:

Esta impostura que indigna ya se vino con la creación de los juegos olímpicos indígenas, ahora pretenden hacer una Copa América para indiecitos que se precia de ser una forma de inclusión, lo único que pretenden es esconder lo excluyentes que son.

Mientras haya diferencias, entre “nosotros” y “ellos” este tipo de eventos son fachadas que solo sirven para la foto y para la publicidad.

This is an outrageous sham that came out of the creation of the Indigenous Olympic Games, and now there is the intention to hold a Copa América for the little “Indians”, which prides itself on being a form of inclusion, but the only thing they mean to do is to conceal how exclusionary they are.

As long as there are differences between “us” and “them”, these kind of events are facades that serve only for photos and publicity.

On Thursday, July 16, the tournament kicked off in Arica, northern Chile, with the cry of afafán, which was used by the Mapuches for war or celebrations:

Tras la entrada llegó el turno del baile inaugural de un grupo de rapanui -originarios de la Isla de Pascuas-, que desafiaron descalzos pese a las bajas temperaturas, con taparrabos y torsos desnudos los varones, y diminutas faldas de plumas blancas y breves atuendos cubriendo sus bustos las mujeres.

Then it was time for the opening dance by a group of Rapanui people, native to Easter Island, who paraded barefoot in spite of the low temperatures, with loincloths and bare torsos for the men and tiny white feathered skirts and short garments covering their busts for the women.

On Twitter, users wrote about the sporting event:

Indigenous Copa América, great initiative, but it should have the same logistical and media support as the national teams.

LIVE: Different ethnic groups from the continent compete for the Indigenous Copa América in our country.

The video below includes some scenes from the opening ceremony:

The event will conclude on Saturday, July 25.

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