Roland McCook, former N. Ute Chairman
ARTICLE: The National Ski Areas Association’s NRDC study said that Colorado and Utah would be losing its snow by the end of the century unless there is an intervention – the East likely earlier. Fortunately, a consensus of the UN’s 192 countries in 2012 identified the key to regenerating Earth: a combination of science/green energy and Ancient Wisdom, especially through the tribes.

Since the Ancient Wisdom part of the intervention is affordable for any ski area, (family or community) our Native American Olympic Team Foundation (NAOTF) helped launch a series of Gratitude Snowdances across America with a handful of trendsetters who wanted to join the bandwagon to help ensure their grandchildren can still enjoy our beloved snowsports.

Thanks to those U.N. countries recognizing in 2009 that Mother Earth is a phenomenally wise, compassionate, sensitive being, and thanks to tribal Elders leading these ceremonies, a lot more people understand that She responds even more generously than people when we give Her appreciation. The intervention tour is lighting the way of how everyone can make a difference in turning around 2012’s worst U.S. drought and warmest temperatures in history by simply saying “Thank you Mother Earth when it snows or rains.”  The tribes remind us that we all have earth-honoring ancestors and how we can extend snow for the kids.

Gratitude Snowdance in Aspen

PHOTO CAPTION (top of page, and above): Roland McCook, former N. Ute Chairman and Utah Olympic host, led stunning Gratitude Snowdance in Aspen that was part of over eight across the U.S. in April that are helping protect Colorado and other states from 2012’s worst drought and fires in history. Many ski areas are still open. CREDITS: photo credit of the Chief’s pic, Copr. © SAKHI ZACK – and the group shot of dancers is Copr. © Deanne Kessler.

To also slow down the Arctic from melting the size of the U.S. and Greenland in 2012, the national intervention tour happened spontaneously thanks to Sandy Liman, the GM of Washington’s Ski the Loup, flying me there to put together a ceremony with a Coville tribal Elder on March 24th. Sandy wanted to give appreciation for their 11 feet of snow in December, since his non-profit ski area depends on “Snow from the heavens, not a hose.”

Sandy explains that “Our snow is thanks to Methow Valley’s clean air and water from largely organic farming, plus sharing skiing and boarding with the Coville Tribe for 20 years. After calling Suzy to help us connect with a Coville Elder some amazing things happened: 13 eagles showed up near my river cabin, the skies got mystical, and we got a several inches of snow and enjoyed the most perfect conditions of the year on our closing weekend. Ernie Brooks led the ceremony ending with a touching friendship circle dance, and a home cooked feast by our ski patrol where Suzy learned our mountain was named after his relative Charlie Loup Loup. Ski patrol members proudly shared how they thanked Mother Earth regularly and then treated Ernie to an exciting sled ride down the mountain.”

Realizing that it would take a team effort to prolong the future of snow in the U.S., Sandy and I drove in his 50 mpg VW Golf clean diesel to our other favorite Western Ski areas to encourage other GM’s to get on board. Herds of deer and elks seemed to cheer us on along the way. We also had the blessing of his equally visionary wife Coleen! While Sandy and I had a prepubescent crush on each other as Eastern ski racers, and he went on to place 3rd in the World Pro Racing Championships, we were now seniors!

Over the three weeks, we magically launched Native ceremonies and programs at Sun Valley with the Shoshone, Snowbird with the Northern Utes on Easter, plus a Salute to General Schwarzkopf in Telluride, the pioneers of the program, on their April 6 closing weekend along with Sunlight. Billy also hosted the Utes at Steamboat and while sincerity is all you need, Aspen hosted the most splendid ceremony with 15 dancers and 150 snow lovers thanks to former N. Ute Chairman Roland McCook, the Salt Lake Olympic Host, and Diane Kessler’s (Fr) Aspen-Ute Foundation.

Every ski area we visited was blessed with snow and heavenly conditions, especially Colorado’s after its four ceremonies, along with their wonderful karma protecting their Ski Mecca by stopping nuclear reactors in Pueblo and Rocky Flats, and Aspen being a U.S. green leader and Vail Resorts shifting to wind power. Together they created a weather system where skiers enjoyed over two feet of “awesome” light powder. More importantly it is helping protect Colorado’s forests from reruns of 2012’s worst drought and fire in history to restore Nature, its rivers.

See photo story with Vail press:

The Colorado storm system then blanketed the Midwest and Eastern seaboard to help reduce or end their droughts thanks also to Minneapolis’ Buck Hill (where Olympian Lindsay Vonn learned) launching a program for their Ojibwa, and a prayer group at Virginia’s Wintergreen Ski Area, led by my gifted Cherokee advisor Olivia Ellis PhD. Added to their Nature Foundation educating homeowners to protect and help plant more trees and ancient rare flora, Wintergreen had their latest closing date in history.

The East also got a karmic boost from Maine’s 2012 Golden Eagle Eco Award winner Mt Abram inviting their Wabanaki to ski, and NJ’s Mt Creek Ski area’s late owner. Gene Mulvihill, protecting billions of gallons of water by turning their seven championship golf courses green with Audubon International & PGA, plus organic spa gardens. (A non-green desert course contaminates a million gal/day-so speak up!)

SUN VALLEY                                  
When Sun Valley’s event didn’t work exactly as planned, Sandy got a little anxious, but learned that Creator is in charge. Perhaps the white custodians of the mountain needed to first clean up our own act? Thanks to Conrad Casser, whose daughter Mina is the assistant to David Ingimie, President of the SnowSports Industries of America, offering to find his local Shoshone friend, his fellow guest services colleague, Eric Laws, a local medium, offered to lead a ceremony.

At the trailhead of Baldy Mt, Laws created an altar with a coin of the Shoshone genius pathfinder Sacajawea. Eric drummed while Sandy and I lit sage and copal, (like incense & myrrh 3 Kings brought Jesus) to repel dark spirits and attract good ones. I offered tobacco to bring prayers up to the heavens, including asking for forgiveness for buying a condo at Elkhorn and later learning it was on a Shoshone burial ground and sank.

Liman appreciated Laws explaining how gifted Native Elders and (respected) shaman, work with energies and can clear mountains of thought forms that remain after accidents or deaths, like Sun Valley’s, so they are not repeated. The First Daughters happened to be there skiing too. Tribes did this for America’s highway/trails, which our foundation revived with National Trails Day thanks to Elders in Vermont, Maine and California. Just as police and governments use psychics to solve crimes, more ski areas could use ancient wisdom to lower accidents and insurance rates to ensure happier experiences.

Said Laws, “now when the Shoshone come, we’ll have at least 30 enlightened Sun Valleyites to join in our gratitude snowdance.” Sakajawea’s descendent Roseanne Abrahamson and I organized the Olympic snowdance for SLOC at Park City, and in appreciation I promised her students at Ft Hall to help them ski at Sun Valley. The Goldmine Thrift Shop also offered to fully outfit 10 Shoshones, similar to Telluride’s Free Box where the community shares with locals, Utes and Navajo.

In appreciation for the Utah Elders saving their 2002 Games and Park City’s N. Ute snowdance phenomena last January that made front page of the Washington Post, my dear friends Dick and Danny Bass, Snowbird owners, became the first Utah ski area to share an on-going Native ski program. They also hosted us at their elegant Cliff Lodge. Danny is also a leader of the wiser algae-biodiesel. While joyfully carving down Snowbird’s Cathedral-like runs with 13 yr old Olympic Hopeful Delaney Tyon, one of three Lakotas graciously getting Olympic coaching there, he told us, “I want to be a green engineer or architect.” No wonder The Bird was blessed with a foot of snow as we left so they’ll be open into May.

TELLURIDE’s SALUTE TO GENERAL SCHWARZKOPF                                
17 Years ago Telluride SkiCo’s owner Ron Allred and the Utes agreed that “sharing the joy of skiing with Native youth in their ancestral lands is a good way to heal and honor the past and start a new beginning.” Therefore, since the weather comes from the mountains, these participating ski resorts have likely helped save taxpayers untold costly disruptions by starting to heal our National Wound.

Thanks to General Norman Schwarzkopf’s fortifying our pioneering the Ute program in an inspiring letter to Allred, the program snowballed to over 10,000 tribal youth across North America being welcomed on over a million acres of their beloved ancestral mountains: That includes 13 ski areas in Canada (See amazing It is also thanks to Chuck Horning then wisely expanding TelSki’s Ute program to an on-going program slightly better than school programs.

While a hawk circled, Louis Aragon (Ute Mt-Apache), a Ft. Lewis College drum instructor working on a solar home, led Telluride’s ceremony at the base of their slopes thanking Mother Earth for all their snowblessings and amazing spring skiing. He also led a prayer song for “Stormin Norman,” the late beloved local skier. The General was probably smiling, like Ute Mt war vets, Chairman Ken Hayes and Vice Chair Bradley Height, when we announced that Telluride’s renowned Adaptive Sports Program will be including the Utes in their Wounded Warrior program. Said Aragon, “When my friend got that opportunity in Telluride after a severe accident, the light in his eyes returned.”

“A few years ago my dad was adopted by the Osage Tribe while searching for his roots in Oklahoma,” said Jessica Schwarzkopf, the General’s daughter. So she said I know he would be touched by the Ute gesture following his funeral at West Point led by former Sec of State Colin Powell.

The ceremony was sponsored by Telluride’s Christy Sports, Boot Doctors, Ice House and (Clean Air, Water, Soil),founded by Rabbi Michael Saftler. Also a founder of, this ski instructor-realtor who helped Colorado stay nuclear-free, believes that “those life support systems need to take precedent over economics and jobs to protect the 7th generation.”

Nuclear and oil are competitive only because they don’t factor in trillions of dollars in costs to generations of taxpayer’s for cleanup, health, agricultural contamination, climate disruptions and subsidies against our will, since a poll proved the majority want safe renewable energy.

The World’s youth urge us all to vote in representatives who stand up for Mother Earth and their future. The Swiss community of Tenna showed us how to make a profit from its solar lift in its first year. (P. 16 Snowdance Phenomena” and Native Elders’ Green Model for RIO+20 Earth Summit June 20-22 and other best practices by world ski areas.)

GLENWOOD SPRINGS’ SKI SUNLIGHT                         
On April 7, Tom Jankowski, Ski Sunlight’s GM, who shares snowsports with 500 Northern Utes each season – a world record – hosted Denver’s “7 Falls Dancers” in appreciation for their participating in snowdances that Bernie Weitsel pioneered at his Colorado SnowSports Expo. Led by Southern Ute Elders Eddy and Betty Box, at Billy Kidd’s (Abenaki) suggestion, the ceremony helped inspire up to 12 ft of early snowfall in the Rockies. Jankowski also influenced Glenwood Hot Springs to share their sacred springs with the Northern Utes, their healthcare system which they shared with settlers.

Tom also gave Boulder’s 12 year old heroic World Youth leader, Xiuh(Shoe)Martinez and his family of dancers a chance to finally ski since they spend all their resources regenerating Mother Earth and therefore snowsports.

Last June, with 100 countries, 20 states, 60 Congressmen and Obama’s youth aids behind his Earth Guardians Kids foundation, Xiuh walked into a closed meeting of the world leaders at RIO+20 Earth Summit last June, took the mic and told them how to create a future they want: Make the Arctic a sanctuary and reforest our world. They applauded him.

Xiuh now heads reforesting the US as part of the UN’s Billion Tree initiative Sec General ki-Moon transferred to the world’s youth. Having the most fires, including next to Xiuh’s Boulder home, he urges everyone to get FREE (or $1.) ideally fruit trees for schools and communities through state forestry departments with free help from the Jr. Master Gardeners, to prevent more U.S. droughts. (See plan on and

That is why Klaus Obermeyer outfitted Xiuh and Itz, his 10 yr old fellow Earth rap star bro. Reflecting Ute consciousness, Sunlight ski instructor Adam Burger told them, “Instead of looking at your feet skiing, let yourself be at one with the mountains.”

THE AMERICAS                              
Vail’s phenomenal powder at our International Ski History Association (ISHA) gathering in April, inspired former Argentine Ski coach Osvaldo Ancinas to share how the Tahoe tribes saved Squaw Valley’s 1960 Olympics. Liman compared witnessing Colorado’s first Ute Snowdance that saved Vail in 1963, to these intervention snowdances in the Vail Daily’s article.

Ancinas also stated that Bariloche has been sharing skiing with their Mapuche tribal youth, the first in the Southern Hemisphere, for their guidance and snow ceremonies, similar to those of Portillo, Chile.

In 2009 Bolivia lost its only ski area/glacier, the drinking water of a million people in La Paz, which woke up the U.N. to listen to the Indigenous and act. Their Sustainability officer urged us to spread our U.S. “Snowdance Phenomena” story to communities worldwide to inspire more harmony with Nature. We hope this tour rallies awareness that we can together extend the snow and glaciers of the Americas. The Mayans say that cross-culturally reconnecting with the heart of Mother Earth powerfully restores Her.

SKIERS REDUCING FRANKENSTORMS!                        
I also learned from the Elders that Mother Earth absorbs negative thoughts and poisons that must be released through frankenstorms (costing $120 billion), earthquakes, droughts, fires… if not healed, especially during what the tribes call “the purification” around 2012.

And one act of kindness can help prevent a terrorist act and create a happier world for all our children.

Sandy’s non-profit Loup was a reminder to the GMs how ski areas once had clean water, modest homes and development (few trees cut) and survived on natural snow so they didn’t spend most their money on snow machines whose dirty energy further interferes with precipitation cycles. Russia’s Sochi Olympics will have plenty of snow thanks to cleaning its water and air after 35 million families shifted to organic gardens with 300 trees – 80% of their food supply – inspired by their Siberian mystic Anastasia. ( And so should we!

Austria’s ski areas now have abundant snow and Kitzbuhlers can drink out of their streams again thanks to many shifting to organic farming and a water purifying breakthrough by Johann Grander, a naturalist who thinks like an Elder. It’s available worldwide via

While many of Sun Valley’s big homes have solar, the UN University united the World’s Indigenous and scientists last year to show dirt cheap ways that families, communities and ski areas can shift to clean renewables. See how Arctic grandmothers became solar engineers and Chinese-Mongolians of the 4 Corners Asia, home to the First Skiers, have preserved their pristine snowy valleys for 10,000 years. And thanks to solar internet their youth are happily preserving their culture and snow, like we can.

For more info: Bob Gough at See what Colorado’s Solar Energy International, a non-profit assisting 60 countries with renewables, is doing for Earth Day 2013.

Special thanks to Mina Casser for posting these educational stories on SIA’s “Latest” blog, where President Ingimie recommended these carbon-free Gratitude Snowdances and ski programs as affordable, fun, green solutions to enhance snow. See how to connect your mountain community. See Media of the “January 2012 Snowdance Phenomena” on (pdf) (doc)

Liman and Matt Hancock, head of Mt Abram, agree with tribal leaders that that all ski areas have a long ways to go to live in harmony with Nature since they are custodians of the headwaters and snowmelt of regions. It is critical that cities near the mountains also go green.

The Intervention Tour was also made possible thanks to Green Leaders: Jamie Schechman’s, the Ute Mt Tribe, Mt Abram, which was also nominated for the 2013 award for now converting to solar energy, and the Loup, which should get an award!

Envisions Schectman, “The world is shifting to a greener place. By the time today’s kids are adults — being sustainable will be commonplace. Jimny Peak in Massachusetts installed a wind turbine and the next year they had a 15% increase in skier visits. Ski areas making a sustainability commitment are getting a following because skiing, community, respect for environment is what’s important.” (

Empowered by California’s Santa Monica and other cities following Ecuador giving Mother Earth Rights, Xiuh and the Elders urge you to initiate those rights in your hometown as part of 2013 UN’s International Mother Earth Day on Earth Day, on Monday April 22!

Xiuh’s adorable 5 yr old sister Tonantzin said in her little prayer at the sacred Glenwood Hot Springs thanking us for the chance to ski and our magical Gratitude Snowdance Tour, “We all have to take care of the Earth. If we work as a team we can make a better Earth for all us kids.”

Article is Copr. © by Suzy Chaffee, and originally published on – all commercial and reprint rights reserved. Contact Suzy at:, or . PHOTO CREDITS: photo credit of the Chief’s pic, Copr. © SAKHI ZACK, and the group shot of dancers is Copr. © Deanne Kessler – used with permission.

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Suzy "Chapstick" Chaffee Bio - as first woman on the USOC board in the 70s, she led the successful reform of the Olympic Rules with Legends like Bill Bradley, Muhammad Ali, Jack Kelly, Kip Keino, which leveled the playing fields with the government supported countries through Madison Ave, then led the Title IX March in DC. In 1996 she co-founded the Native American Olympic Team Foundation that has inspired ski areas across the US and Canada to invite tribal youth to share the joy of skiing with over 10,000 youth, which inspires their Elders to lead snowdances that have saved ski areas from droughts for 55 years. At the request of SLOC, she orchestrated a snowdance that restored their snow and also a Native ceremony with Ali, that protected Utah from expected terrorism, and every Olympics since then, including RIO!