Southern Ute Indian royalty, Little Miss Southern Ute Alternate, Yllana Chanelle Howe, 7, right center, Junior Miss Southern Ute, Izabella "Oewichichi" Howe, 10, center, and their mother, Marquetta Howe, left, help lead the crowd in a Southern Ute snow dance Saturday at the base of the Vista bahn chair lift in Vail Village. Yllana's Ute name is "Nanacivchi" meaning butterfly while Izabella's Ute name is "Oewichichi" meaning Yellow Bird.

Suzy Chaffee: ‘Snow Gratitude’ Ceremonies Key to Reenergizing Mother Earth

ICTMN Staff
5/1/13

Last year, ICTMN presented a series of stories, including The Southern Utes Snow Dance Works Wonders on Weather, concerning the use of Native wisdom and tribal traditions to honor Mother Earth and help to reestablish natural balance on Turtle Island. ICTMN has also reported on the Yellow Bird Indian Dancers, comprised of members of the incredible Duncan family, who were asked by the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games to grace the sporting event and impart American Indian blessings and knowledge. 

Along these lines, Suzy Chaffee, cofounder of the Native American Olympic Team Foundation, has been a tireless proponent of encouraging the intervention of ancient Native wisdom to protect and reenergize Mother Earth. Chaffee, of course, got world headlines ski racing in the 1968 Grenoble Olympics. As the first woman on the U.S. Olympic Committee board, she united world athletes to reform the Olympic rules, and led the Title IX march for equal opportunities for women in school sports. Chaffee co-founded the Native Voices Foundation in 1996, now called the Native American Olympic Team Foundation, which has inspired ski areas across North America to invite thousands of tribal youth back to their ancestral lands to ski and snowboard. That inspired their Elders to lead 'Gratitude Snowdances' that have saved ski resorts from destructive droughts and given Native youth a chance to compete at the Olympic Games, including the upcoming 2014 Winter Games in Russia.

 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. ( © SAKHI ZACK)

In a recent article titled "Could National ‘Snow Gratitude’ Ceremonies Extend Future of Snow Sports?," Chaffee observes that a leading 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 U.N.’s 192 countries in 2012 identified the key to regenerating Earth: a combination of science/green energy and Ancient Wisdom, especially through the tribes.

[XC Olympic Hopeful Mariah Cooper (Lac Courte Oreilles-Oneida) supporting Lil'wat Elder Ron Lester's Vancouver ceremony. The rain and fog turned into "rare bluebird days."]

"Thanks to those U.N. countries recognizing ... that Mother Earth is a phenomenally wise, compassionate, sensitive being, and thanks to tribal Elders leading these [Graditude Snowdance] ceremonies, a lot more people understand that she responds even more generously than people when we give her appreciation." 

Chaffee and the Native American Olympic Team Foundation have led an Intervention Tour that "is lighting the way [to show] 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.'"

(© Deanne Kessler)

The tour has traveled from Loup Loup Ski Area in Washington state to Sun Valley Resort in Idaho to Utah's Snowbird to Telluride in Colorado, spreading blessings from Elders and efforting to restore balance. "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," writes Chafee.

On many environmental fronts, including the fights against the Keystone XL pipeline and fracking, Natives are taking the lead. "Nuclear and oil are competitive only because they don’t factor in trillions of dollars in costs to generations of taxpayers for cleanup, health, agricultural contamination, climate disruptions and subsidies against our will," notes Chaffee, "since a poll proved the majority want safe renewable energy." A return to the principle of the Seventh Generation is needed.

Importantly, "the world’s youth urge us all to vote in representatives who stand up for Mother Earth and their future," writes Chaffee.

Read Chaffee's entire article "Could National ‘Snow Gratitude’ Ceremonies Extend Future of Snow Sports?" by clicking here. ICTMN encourages readers to share their thoughts with us by commenting below.

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