Team Colorado at opening ceremonies for the 2016 North American Indigenous Games in Toronto.

(Jeremy Wade Shockley/The Southern Ute Drum)

It's a long way from the Southern Colorado gym where Kerwin Tom normally wrestles to a university arena in Toronto, Canada. That's the trek he and about 60 other Coloradans made recently to compete with 4,000 other athletes at the North American Indigenous Games. Tom tells Colorado Matters the competition was tough, but he brought home a bronze medal.

The Indigenous Games feature athletes from across the United States and Canada in 19 sports ranging from volleyball to archery and cross-country to lacrosse. Ian Thompson, director of the SunUte Community Center on the Southern Ute Reservation, helped organize the group of  Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute competitors, and he tells Colorado Matters the games are a unique opportunity for the athletes to compete at a high level, to see a wider world, and to share in American Indian culture.