After Free Olympic Tickets, What Next?

The treatment of First Nation Chiefs as “heads of state” at the Olympics will have real significance if this status is accorded First Nations beyond the Olympics. Apparently, it results from an agreement signed prior to the Vancouver bid for the Games to which all political actors who would be involved in the Games were parties, including the First Nations Chiefs on whose traditional territories the Games will take place. Protocol usually follows political status, but is this a case when protocol might lead to a more firmly grounded recognition of the First Nations as sovereign nations? The media story compares the four First Nations Chiefs’s status at the Games as equivalent to that of President Barack Obama. I suspect the President’s status goes beyond benefitting from complimentary tickets to all Olympic venues and public recognition through the seating arrangements (the focus of the story about the Chiefs) and, of course, he is treated as a head of state wherever he goes in his capacity as President. Not discounting the importance of this development, what else follows from this more limited recognition of the Chiefs to the Olympic context?


  1. So a few chiefs get recognition by a non-government organisation for a couple of weeks. Then what? Exactly. Many native Americans in British Columbia regard this as a sell out with a few top guys benefiting while their inheritance is torn up by developers. Maybe a comparison can be made with the biblical character of Esau selling his birthright for a mess of potage. A few cheap tickets for what?