Fun facts about the 2010 Winter Games
Much fanfare about Canada's First Nations
The word "aboriginal" is all over the Olympics this year -- you can't miss it. The Olympic logo is an Inuit inukshuk. The Olympic medals -- no two alike -- feature aboriginal artwork. And a big chunk of Olympic merchandise, from hoodies to jewelry, is covered with aboriginal symbols and designs.
So why all the talk about First Nations and the aboriginal populations of Canada? Well, the Olympic Games are being held on land that is in their traditional territory -- specifically, the territory of the Lil'wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations. And these four communities (with a population totaling about 7,000) have joined together as the Four Host First Nations, one of the official hosts of the 2010 Olympics.
They're called First Nations because, well, they got there first. They've been around for thousands of years, way before the Europeans came along and took over the land. Of course, much of the land was divided up long ago, but in British Columbia, most of it was never ceded by treaty. (There's a treaty process under way, but the back-and-forth has continued for hundreds of years, so don't hold your breath.)
As you might expect, not everyone approves of Vancouver's Olympic involvement. A group called Resist 2010, for instance, has fought against the Games, adopting the slogan "No Olympics on Stolen Land." Being an official Olympic host, though, has gotten wide approval from aboriginal people in Canada because it shines a spotlight on the population. After all, almost 100 aboriginal artists from all over Canada have produced artwork for the Olympics. There's an 8,000-square-foot Aboriginal Pavilion set up at the Games to offer 17 days of cultural programs: singing, dancing, drumming, fashion shows, storytelling and more. Indigenous communities stand to benefit financially, too: according to the Edmonton Journal, the Olympics have brought in $159 million to First Nations.