Two hundred years ago, the survival of American Indian families depended on older tribal members teaching survival skills to their youth. These skills were taught through games of intuition and chance which created situations to learn body language, observation of the environment, and ways to connect with spirit and power.
Chronological Journey of International Traditional Games Society
1989 Began research of “Dog Days” children’s’ games of the Blackfeet Indians at Browning Middle School for Browning School District #9.
1991 With Montana Arts Council grant, filmed sixth, seventh, and eighth grade Browning Middle School students in authentic traditional clothing as they performed the ancient games of Blackfeet.
1992 Arlee Junior High school and Salish Kootenai College media department edited the raw footage of the Blackfeet children’s games into a twenty minute film to be used for education.
1993 A game’s manual was written and published to accompany the film.
1994 The Peoples’ Center and Arlee School wrote and received a grant from the Montana Commiittee of the Humanities to research and then film games of the Flathead tribes.
1995 Traditional games were incorporated into National Native American Day ceremonies.
1996 The American Indian Games Foundation, which was formed in 1993 by a small group of Blackfeet, encouraged a new Humanities grant to be written for bringing Montana tribes together to plan games.
1997 Upon receiving a Montana Committee of the Humanities planning grant, tribal representatives met. They recommended the formation of a non-profit organization called “International Traditional Games Society.”
1998 “International Traditional Games Society” was incorporated and funding was sought to host the first traditional games.
1999 First International Traditional Games was held summer 1999 on Blackfeet Reservation near Glacier Park.
2000 Blackfeet Games held at Red Eagle Campground, July 27-30.
2001 Flathead Games held at Elmo Pow-Wow Grounds, July 25-30.
2002 Traditional Native American Games presented at “World Indigenous People’s Conference,” Morley, Alberta, Canada.
2003 International Traditional Games held at “Standing Arrow” Pow Wow, Elmo, Montana.
2004 Traditional Games Society hosted summer games at Expo Park, Great Falls, Montana. It was the first summer games off reservations and was very well attended by urban Indians and the Little Shell tribal members.
2005 The International Traditional Games Society partnered with the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial to co-host the signature event in Great Falls, Montana call "Explore! The Big Sky." People from around the world, as well as Montana's American Indians, attended to play the games.
2006 Fort Belknap Nation received the game blanket and hosted the summer camp in Lodge Pole, Montana in June of 2006. Youth, teens, and adults participated in children's games, team games, and horse events.
2007 Fort Belknap Nation agreed to host the summer games again in July 23 - 25, at Lodge Pole, Montana. Planned events are speakers from horse societies and traditional horse families, children's games, bow shooting, atlatl casting, and team games. Fort Belknap Diabetes Program will be hosting the events this year.
2008 Fort Peck Nation hosted the summer games at the pow wow grounds in Poplar, Montana. Competitors from Blackfeet, Assiniboine, Sioux, White Clay tribes attended. Youth and adults played.
2009 The fourth year of certification clinics was held at East Glacier Park Lodge, at the Two Medicine entrance to Glacier Park and on the Blackfeet Reservation. Participants from communities over the Northwest attended.
2010 Certification clinics were held at the following communities: Mother Earth Children's Charter School at Edmonton, Alberta, Wolf Point Schools on the Fort Peck, Missoula, MT and Billings, MT Public Schools, Saskatoon Schools in Saskatchewan, East Glacier Park Lodge, and Salish Kootenai College.
2011 - 2012, Numerous presentations to colleges, schools, health and tribal programs and a certification clinic for all employees of the First Nations Buffalo Jump near Great Falls, Montana continued. The Office of Public Instruction, State of Montana since 2006 continued to include traditional native games in lessons for "Indian Education for All." Plans for inclusion of traditional games from Montana's twelve tribes to be included in the new Health Enhancement state standards.
2013: The First International Traditional Games Conference was held at Salish Kootenai College. Science professors shared their knowledge on the neurobiological benefits of play and the social/emotion development and cultural experts from North America and Indian shared their knowledge of traditional native games. The First International Traditional Games Conference was held at Salish Kootenai College. Science professors shared their knowledge on the neurobiological benefits of play and the social/emotion development and cultural experts from North America and Indian shared their knowledge of traditional native games.
2014: Many presentations and five certification clinics were held: Upward Bound youth learned about the traditional games of many tribes, Tobacco Programs of Montana took games back home, and State Park & Recreation rangers learned how to present Native games of their own regions.
2015: ITGS largest training certification clinic brought 20 games teachers and over 80 participants of all ages to East Glacier. Blackfeet artists received photo packets of “games in action” for inspiration to develop new media genre of the tribal games.
2016: Traditional Games Certification Clinic Levels I, II, III
It is estimated that over 60,000 people have played traditional games or have used the games and cultural concepts in their programs.