eNewsChannels COLUMN: The buzz at the SnowSports Industries Show ending January 31 in Denver was about the Native American snowdance phenomena that restored snow to the Ski Meccas of Colorado, Utah and California in January. They also said, “we need more snowdances.” Some Native Elders who led them say that our giving Mother Earth gratitude for these snowblessings, whether large of small, and including Her in our hearts, especially on Valentine’s Day, can do wonders to inspire more snowfalls.

Many ski resorts, such as Telluride, Aspen, Steamboat, Spirit Mt, Heavenly, have experienced how Mother Earth is even more generous than people when we give sincere appreciation. At their end of the season Gratitude Snowdances, their slush is usually replaced by wonderful powder snow. What brings credibility to all this phenomena is two years ago the U.N’s 192 member nations created International Mother Earth Day, April 22 (on Earth Day), recognizing Mother Earth as a living, loving, sensitive, wise compassionate being.

PHOTO CAPTION: The Eagle Wings Dance Group, descendants of the Paiute, Shoshone and Washoe Tribes from Reno Sparks Indian Colony performing a snowdance at Homewood in mid January. It replicated the one that restored snows to Tahoe’s 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics – the first known cross-cultural snowdance. Tahoe and Mammoth received 4-5 feet, following Vail and Park City’s Snowdances that brought several feet of snow to their regions. CREDIT: Carolyn O’Connor / Sierra Sun.

For those who missed the many press stories in January about the Western snow phenomena, covered by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) to AP and the San Francisco Chronicle, here’s what happened. Vail, Park City, and Squaw Valley each called on a Higher Power through a Native American Ceremonies, said the WSJ’s Ben Cohen, which blanketed these ski areas hurting from their driest winter in decades. These prestigious mountain communities chose a Zero Carbon Footprint, Zero Cost, Nobel Prize winner-endorsed Native snowdance solution, which tribal Elders were glad to assist, thanks to the cooperative spirit created by inviting their tribal youth to ski and snowboard in their beloved ancestral mountains. See stories on

Gratitude was a key part of Vail’s successful Snowdance through the words of Eddy and Betty Box Jr who led the ceremony with hundreds of Vail locals and visitors sincerely praying with them. Cohen reported how Vail Mountain’s Chief Operating officer, Chris Jarnot, following Eddy’s suggestion, skied to a special place in the back bowls, and made a tobacco offering facing the four directions. That is a powerful way to thank the Creator, Mother Earth, Nature spirits and Ute ancestral spirits in advance. Vail showed the world the snowdance worked by capturing powder skiing shots the next day on:

We learned the power of Valentine’s Day prayers in 2007 during Europe’s similar emergency when they were suffering from their “warmest winter in 1,250 years.” Thanks to a tip off from Bob Gough, whose Native (Wind) Energy had just won a “Clean Energy Oscar” in Switzerland, I asked the President of the World Council of Elders what we could do to help. He led a prayer to also please include Mother Earth in our hearts on Valentine’s Day Feb 14, which we circulated in the press and networks worldwide, such as EarthCharter USA’s 2,500 communities, China Millennium Council, TM and the Oneness University. It was combined with Shasta Elder Skywatcher’s gratitude snowdance on their sacred Mt Shasta, and their youth enjoying some blissful skiing and boarding.

Right after Valentine’s Day we got a report from Switzerland, “It’s snowing here. Please thank your tribes,” said French Princess Caroline Murat, European advisor of our Native American Olympic Team Foundation (NAOTF). She lives near Veysonnaz Ski Area which has a huge tipi atop their Swiss Alps. (The owner offered to be the training center for our Native American Olympic Hopefuls.) Following a group gratitude prayer two weeks later, Princess Murat said, “The resorts got much more snow and are so happy!”

Could we do the same for all of our U.S. ski areas or any ski areas needing snow (or any locale needing moisture) worldwide this Valentine’s Day? YES, say the Elders. “It could greatly purify our global mountain chains by including Mother Earth in this ocean of love energy that day,” said my gifted Cherokee advisor, Olivia Ellis, PHd. Just as Japan’s Dr Emoto proved that giving love and appreciation to water purifies it, it also purifies mountains.

Vail, Park City, and Squaw Valley chose a snow solution in harmony with Nature, over toxic cloud seeding that costs around a million dollars, or total reliance on snowmaking, which the biggest cost to ski areas and is mainly dirty energy that interferes with natural snow cycles.

They also had confidence in snowdances after a Southern Ute Snowdance miracle in 1963 saved their droughted opening years. This phenomenon also got Vail national attention on the CBS Huntley-Brinkly report. In 2001, Ski Utah and SLOC asked our foundation to orchestrate a snowdance to help end their drought so they could test their equipment the winter before their Games. The Utah Tribal leaders heroicly saved the day and their 2002 Olympics had ideal weather. Plus the Native American Opening helped give Utah’s Games the highest ratings in history.


Gratitude was also key to Tahoe ending their drought on January 15. At their Olympic Heritage Closing Ceremonies on KOLO TV, they honored the Reno Sparks Indian Colony of the Washoe, Paiute, Shoshone, for their snowdance that magnanimously restored snows to their 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics (and Tahoe resorts). One of those dancers was Patty Hicks, who in turn guided the Eagle Wings Dance group at the January event in their first cross-cultural snowdance in 50 years, following the first known one in history, which saved their Olympics.

“Every step was a prayer for our dancers, and I could feel that everyone there was sincere,” said Louis Kane, the troupe leader. “It was the most exciting meaningful dance I have ever done. At 11 that night, it snowed, which strengthened my belief in our traditions,” she said.

The good karma of Heavenly Valley hosting a Washoe ski program may also have helped, for within a week Tahoe was blessed with five feet of snow all the way to Mammoth, which pioneered including the Paiute and Miwok tribal youth in their $5/day student programs since the 50’s.

The key to consistent abundant snow is clean wind energy, such as at Jimny Peak (Ma), Grouse Mt (Canada) and many European countries, plus Mt. Abram’s (Maine) field of solar panels, combined with giving gratitude to Mother Earth, and tribal youth outreach. That is why U.N. Sustainability officer, Maria Mercedes Sanchez, encouraged NAOTF to spread this snowdance phenomena story worldwide, which is a profound wake up call to inspire more communities to live in harmony with Nature.

More storms hit Colorado in February after Ute Mt Ute Elder, Reggie Lopez, graciously offered and then led Telluride’s Gratitude Snowdance on January 28 for all Colorado’s snows. Telluride had the most without a snowdance thanks to their on-going Ute Mt Future Olympians Ski & Snowboard program they pioneered in 1996, (inspired by Taos), which snowballed across North America.

Said Lopez, “My Shoshone relatives in the Pacific Northwest also (quietly) lead Winter Round Dances or Moondances, often all night long, which give gratitude for moisture or snowmelt even more critical for drinking water, Nature, agriculture and fire prevention.” Added to the good karma of John Gifford, President of Ski Washington and Steven’s Pass donating 20 season’s passes to the Tulalips and Lummis, and Oregon’s Mt Hood also sharing their chairlifts for berry picking, they received up to 10 feet of snow in January.

The tribes of the Midwest and Eastern Iroquois have somewhat similar ceremonies. The difference between the Eastern and Western snow levels could be that the Eastern states have been slower to embrace Native ski programs and snowdances. Yet the Abenaki’s from my home state of Vermont have helped ski areas with snow a few times, also in appreciation for the Olympians at Cochran Hill hosting a ski program. In Maine, Sugarloaf’s Penobscot program is a model for sharing tickets, rentals and lessons for $20/day for tribal members, so kids get on-going skiing and ski areas still get the good snow karma.

To assist other dry regions and to reinforce the snow at the resorts that were blessed, we orchestrated 12 ski areas giving gratitude prayers in solidarity with Reggie’s Gratitude Snowdance. At around noon on the 28th, Elders and/or skiers anchored in prayers at Sun Valley, Wintergreen (VA), Sandia (NM), Mt. Baldy (CA), Mt. Abram (Maine), Mt Creek (NJ), Spirit Mt (Wisc), Cochran Hill, Vt, Squaw Valley, Sunlight, Steamboat, and Arizona Snowbowl. Some received their first snows right away, and others are getting snowblessings now.

We hope everyone will spread the word that Valentine’s Day is a huge opportunity to restore the snows and moisture across America, as we did for Europe. “Giving gratitude by prayer or a snowdance to Mother Earth on this high vibrational day will not only bring blessings to the ski areas, or wherever you want to send moisture, but also to the area on which you stand and pray,” said Dr. Ellis. And where two or more are gathered it is stronger.

For example, after I prayed on the phone from Mexico with Olivia during the solidarity ceremony, much of Mexico has since been blessed with its first moisture since November, including several inches of rare snow on their highest mountains!

“When you participate you can fully experience this phenomenon, especially if you give thanks to Mother Earth and Creator in advance, at the beginning of your prayer as the tribes do,” said Dr. Ellis.


2012 is the UN’s Year of Cooperation! All these tribes and ski areas are shining models of how we can together better survive and thrive.

Eddy Box Jr continues his father’s snowdances at Vail because “We wanted to create more harmony between our cultures and Mother Earth,” which is similar to what the Mayans say is key to creating a smoother 2012. Our sensitive Mother Earth absorbs our negativity, which needs to be released. Our Valentine’s Day love can help transmute that negativity to diffuse earthquakes, volcano eruptions and tsunamis.

President Mandela used rugby at their 1994 World Championships to unite South Africans, powerfully depicted by Morgan Freeman (Cherokee) and Matt Damon in the film Invictus.

As head of Rocky Mt Forestry, Bjorn Dahl, 7th generation Norwegian forester and former GM of Kirkwood (Tahoe CA), said that these Native ski programs are the most harmonious bridge between our cultures he had ever seen.

Over the last 16 years thousands of tribal youth have had a chance to get leaner and cleaner, diabetes-free, and have Olympic Dreams through the friendships formed from all these Native ski and snowboard programs. They are the biggest motivator for our youth, to also get better educated for jobs, say tribal leaders and teachers. “Tribal members helped build many of the Western resorts,” said NSAA President Michael Berry. Yet today Native communities have a depressing 50% unemployment rate. Telluride, Beaver Creek and Mt Hood have also been leaders in tribal jobs – also good snow karma.

This outreach model could help prevent 2,000 tribes a year from going extinct worldwide, according to a UN study. Wanting to safeguard and strengthen the future of snowsports worldwide, since it takes a village, Ingimie connected us to ski industry leaders in other continents to encourage their resorts to invite their tribal Elders or shamen to lead these ceremonies and reach out to their tribal youth. Thirteen ski areas across Canada now have First Nations Snowboard programs, which inspired their Lil’wat and Squamish Elders’ ceremonies to help transform Whistler’s Olympic downhill cancellations from rain and fog into a “rare number of bluebird days.”

Thank you tribes for magnanimously leading these Snowdances that help the rest of our global family remember our magical earth honoring roots. The key is being pure-spirited, like the Mayflower people who saved themselves through raindances, which impressed their Wompanoag friends.

The late Nobel Prize winner, Stanford’s Stephen Schneider, said “Because large scale systems affect our complex weather, it is difficult to say which elements affect the precipitation outcome most, so one needs to work with all sides of the street. It would be foolish to dismiss anything that helps in this environmental crisis, especially if it costs almost nothing. I think it is wonderful that North American ski areas have been inviting tribal youth back to ski and snowboard, which inspires their Elders to lead these snowdances. And it would be wise to further explore and expand such cross-fertilization, exemplified by Aspen SkiCo, that unites good stewardship with Elders-led group prayers and snowdances. If it works, go for it!” 

Special thanks to NJ’s Mt Creek Resort, Ute Mt Casino, Mountain Riders Alliance and SkiLogic, which donates a tree for every pair of their state-of-the-art skis sold and something for Native kids, for helping us continue this bridgework.

Our SNOW-RIDERS.ORG, recommended by NSAA, to make this historic bridge even easier, has maps with your closest U.S. tribes and ski areas with websites and contact info. The U.N. and SIA join us in encouraging ski areas, especially snow challenged ones, to invite their tribal youth to ski and snowboard, and we encourage tribal Elders to offer a Gratitude Snowdance. We are here to assist you in creating these phenomenal snowbridges anywhere worldwide.

Bless you for a joining with your loved ones to send tsunamis of love and appreciation around Mother Earth in a big hug to help inspire even more extraordinary blessings for your ski areas, mountain chains, and oceans on Tuesday, Valentine’s Day. A Valentine’s Snowdance would be even better! Please share any phenomena you may experience so we may further inspire others.

By also joyfully riding down Mother Earth’s magnificent mountains with gratitude in our hearts for all Her phenomenal gifts every day, we are heroicly Snowdancing into a new Era.


Copyright © 2012 by Olympic Skier Suzy “Chapstick” Chaffee, and originally published on, all commercial and reprint rights reserved. To contact Suzy directly, you may do so online at:,, .

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!