International Traditional Games Society

International Traditional Games Society
P.O. Box 535 
Great Falls, MT 50403


International Traditional Games Society recovers American Indian games to restore the ancient tribal cultural values of healthy living. We believe our efforts to revive and reenact traditional games give power to the life-affirming expression of “What Holds Us Together,” as we honor the unique cultural expressions of different tribes, including language, movement, and skills for shared survival.


Established in 1998, International Traditional Games Society (ITGS) has had a vital role in building health and survival skills for modern people through its mission to recover and restore ancient Native American games. ITGS was the first organization dedicated to the recovery of Native games and remains a respected organization today, with outreach and support now spreading to indigenous tribes in North America. Because of these factors, ITGS fosters a vision to use the games to equip our native people to heal from deep-rooted historical trauma wounds and end the cycles of addiction, abuse, neglect, and poverty.

The Issues:

Tribal youth represent 11% of the total Montana high school students but even our largest school in the Blackfeet Nation does not fiscally support strong, culturally relevant after-school activities in art, music/dance, language, sports, or their own cultural expressions. Statistics regarding the well-being of our tribal youth as reported by the Montana Office of Public Instruction in 2016 are troubling: Suspension rates are 7% higher for Indian students, Suicide attempts were 10.9% higher, use of alcohol, cigarettes, or marijuana was 9.5% higher than non-native peers. A most telling statistic about our tribal youth was found in their lack of attachment to regular high school programs: Over 33% of them pursue a G.E.D. (only 7.2% of non-natives do so) instead of the high school degree. American Indians in Montana have a graduation rate 22.1% lower than the White student graduation rate.

Constituency and Leadership:

ITGS trains teachers and young American Indian leaders across the northwest because youth bring passion and awareness to ancient ways of knowing through Native games. Youth leaders carry the recovered games as tools for developing “face” (character) and “heart” (courage) to survive in the modern world. We have shared the mission with world cultures, two-spirits, and numerous ethnicities, across wide economic strata. Our Native American Board of Directors (chosen from Montana’s 13 tribes) resembles the best of community. Organizing issues are solved by elders, board, and past advisors. ITGS works closely with the Indian Education Department of Montana Public Schools.

Tackling Oppressive Structures:

In 2017, ITGS made it a strategic priority to address the issue of a lack of funding for culturally relevant programming. The goals have been to: 1) Have key institutional partners identify the need for change and identify institutional political and fiscal barriers; 2) Encourage indigenous youth to examine different ways that they could fully express their language, culture, and customs through extracurricular activities; and 3) Support partners and youth in a comparison of the present institutional and fiscal system and then together work for cross-issue, cross-sectoral, organizing.

Movement Building:

I.T.G.S connected with Montana Office of Public Instruction, Indian Education Department in 2005 in a grant to educate teachers about Montana’s tribal cultures using traditional games. Since then our instructors present programs at O.P.I’s yearly statewide conferences. Our relationships to schools, colleges, museums, and health programs across the state have been developed through traditional games clinics where people of all ethnicities have come together to play. Joy and laughter have set the stage for open discussions. This is how we built movement.  

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Organization Budget:  $78,800
Request: $10,000

raised to date this week:

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