Towaoc hosts Tri Ute Games

Three indigenous tribes will come together for the spirit of healthy competition July 24-27.

Towaoc will host the fourth annual Tri Ute Games. It is four days of friendly multiple sports competition between the Ute Mountain Utes, Southern Utes and Northern (Utah) Utes.

The first Tri Ute Games were hosted in Towaoc in 2007. The Southern Utes hosted the 2009 games in Ignacio and the Northern Utes hosted in 2010 at Fort Duchesne, Utah.

“It was inspired by in spirit of kinsmanship. Let’s have some fun together. They’re all related,” said Ute Mountain Recreation Center director Robert Roybal. “Often times, we don’t get together enough. Council members thought it would be a good idea for us to do that.”

Competitive inspiration came from each tribe participating in the North American Indigenous Games over the years in Canada and the United States. Both Colorado Ute tribes hosted the 2006 North American Indigenous Games in Denver.

“One reason the games started was to gain experience for North American Indigenous Games,” Roybal said. “It’s something to play for and to work for.”

Roybal anticipates at least 300 athletes and coaches to be in Towaoc. Events on the docket include, boys and girls basketball, girls volleyball, a triathlon, golf tournament, cross-country race, swimming, archery, bowling, shinny (a form of field hockey) and hand games. The latter is a group guessing game where people hide objects in hand on a team. The other team has try to guess which hand they are in. Objects traditionally used are bone and wood counting sticks.

There will be open demonstrations on hand games, as well as teepee raising.

“These are cultural events,” Roybal said. “A lot of kids play mainstream sports, but we play the traditional sports as well. Our philosophy is not to only make it better for the young people, but to make it better for the tribes in general.”

Health promotion is also a major part of the Tri Ute Games. Child obesity is a big concern on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation.

“We believe strong bodies and strong minds go together. We try to get the kids to participate in healthy ways and lifestyles,” Roybal said. “We try to keep them off of drugs, keep them in good lifestyle and culture. We’re working though the sports. Having healthy exercises together, we get to renew friendships. It builds unity amongst the tribes. Tribes can support each other.”

A health fair, in conjunction with Colorado Air National Guard, will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The opening ceremony is Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at the Ute Mountain Rec. Center. Basketball games will follow. For more information or questions about the tentative schedule, contact Roybal or Nick Traweek at 564-5360, or call Lynn Hartman at 749-6823.

The Southern Utes are slated to host the 2013 Tri Ute Games in Ignacio.

Reach Bobby Abplanalp at