Sipapu NM-AZ Native Program

To further help heal and unite America, on February 26, New Mexico’s Sipapu ski area announced that it is joining Pajarito Mt and Ski Santa Fe in offering landmark affordable skiing and snowboarding opportunities to the tribes of New Mexico and Arizona.

Besides Mandela’s passing, what inspired the Sipapu breakthrough was a call on Valentines Day from Aaron Fry (Cherokee/Chickasaw), son-in-law of the Laguna Governor Stan Lucero. His family, who hosted Grace Kelly and Prince Albert at their pueblo dances, has been our biggest NM supporter with the Udalls and Ohkey Owingeh Governor/NCAI President Joe Garcia.

Aaron said how much the Laguna-Acoma kids loved learning to ski at Pajarito, and while they are temporarily closed from snow challenges, they continue to pray for their snow, and got to ski again at Sipapu, since they have great specials. Given that Santa Fe’s program is focused on “Never Ever Skiers and Boarders” – the first important fun step – I thought a mom and pop ski area with a Native American name might want to give us a hand to make this NM-AZ program rock on.

Sipapu’s GM Gary Forest, a pioneer in saving snowmaking energy, was immediately interested. He explained how the founder loved Native Americans, and “Sipapu is a Hopi name for a small hole in the floor of prayer kivas used by the modern and Ancient Pueblo Peoples symbolizing the portal through which their ancient ancestors first emerged to enter the present world.”

Sipapu’s gesture was an answer to a prayer I led with David Vosburgh, director of the Pajarito Native Ski and Snowboard Program and our Native Nations Sports Ambassador Program, which NM ski areas are launching. Coincidentally, next to the sipapu in the Ceremonial Kiva at the majestic Bandelier Canyon cliff dwellings, a National Monument, we gave gratitude for “the tribal-led rainblessings that protected their ski area and Los Alamos Lab from the 2011 SW wildfire, plus for all New Mexico’s snowblessings and landmark progress in healing, uniting and realizing the full phenomenal potential of America.”

NM-AZ Native Program PHOTO CAPTION: (R)David Vosburgh, director of Los Alamos’ Pajarito Mt Native ski program, and (L) Olympic skier Suzy Chaffee leading a gratitude prayer with (r-l) Olympic ski and gymnastics gurus George Hery, and Michael and Debbie Capelotti next to a sipapu in the Ceremonial Kiva at Bandelier Canyon. Miraculously, Sipapu Ski Area just adopted Pajarito’s program to help heal America, like Mandela did through joyful sports! © Dean Capelotti.

“At Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort, our goal has always been to make skiing and snowboarding affordable and available to everyone, which is why we are proud to be a part of this new Native ski outreach,” said Forest.

“Sipapu will match Pajarito’s deal to offer a special package that includes a full-day, all-mountain lift ticket, a full-day ski or snowboard rental and a two-hour group lesson for $25. This offer is available everyday for any card-carrying Native American of New Mexico or Arizona, and the offer is good for children and their trip chaperones as well,” said the generous GM.

Reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance by contacting Sue Leslie, Sipapu’s Ski School Director, at 800-587-2240 or

Since our Native American Olympic Team Foundation (NAOTF) started facilitating these North American tribal outreaches by the ski areas in 1996, I have seen amazing things happen regularly when we give a little gratitude prayer to Creator, Mother Earth, Native Americans and their ancestral and Nature spirits for their priceless gifts!! Snowdance Phenomena and Native Elders’ Green Model for RIO+20 Earth Summit June 20-22, and press (pdf).

Therefore, could Sipapu choosing to honor the Pueblo ancestors with that name, have contributed to their having New Mexico’s longest ski season – November to April? Plus they are 20 miles from the snow depth leader Taos, whose pioneering Pueblo ski program helped inspire our Telluride Ute program 18 years ago, which then snowballed across North America. You decide.

For more information about the resort, please visit the Sipapu website at .

For more details on the Santa Fe and Pajarito programs Read More:

Contact, or

* * *

Article is Copr. © 2014 by Suzy Chaffee and originally published on – all commercial and reprint rights reserved. Opinions are those of the author and may not reflect the opinion or policy of this site or its publisher. Content has not been edited beyond simple typo checks in order to retain the author’s unique voice. READ MORE from Suzy 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!