American Indian superskiers captivated the hearts and minds
of the next generation of skiers, as well as ski area leaders,
at the "Salute to North America's First Caretakers"
at Seattle's SnowSports Expo November 12-14. Kids were spellbound
by their "weapons of mass instruction" - the magnificent
eight foot Raven wings, storytelling, and snowdance of Tlingit
x-treme skier Gene Tabagan, and the eight foot skis and shiny
red war-painted suit of Tulalip speedski champ Stew Young.
By sundown Sunday, after joyfully
circling the wagons (booths), the braves, (along with snowdance
host Olympic skier Suzy Chaffee), had commenced a healing of
hundreds of years of broken promises, by inspiring a new breed
of "ski area caretakers" to welcome their local tribes
back to their ancestral lands. Tribal youth and families from
Oregon to Canada to Alaska are now being invited to ski and
board and share their sustainable culture and snowblessings.
Sturtevant's Al Quinn, Expo's co-producer with Bernie Weitzel,
donated gear to help the Northwest Indian College (near Mt Baker),
launch their Native Ski Program, thanks to professors Ray Levesque
(Tlingit-Cherokee) and Lisa Santana (Lummi), along with Elder
"Uncle Paul" (Tlingit), who united in the prayers
Also motivated by National Geographic's
October coverstory - that the glaciers have melted in 10 years,
equal to that of the last 1,000 years - skiers and "World
Watch" scientists (who called Northwest tribes "models
of restoring the fish") are paying attention to tribal
wisdom as never before.
"I want to thank all 'Washington's
First Caretakers' - the tribes of our state - for remaining
true to their heritage in continuing to work to keep our lands
pristine," said Senator Patty Murray. Scott Kaden, President
of the Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association, wanting to strengthen
the healthy future of Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Idaho skiing,
by partnering with the tribes, had asked "Suzy Chapstick,"
co-chair of (Aspen-based) Native American Olympic Team Foundation and former
U of Washington student, to mobilize the wisdomkeepers for Seattle's
Tagaban and Young have offered
to help launch these fun cultural exchanges for the youth at
the premier mountain communities who want to be part of this:
Crystal Mountain, Stevens Pass, diversity leader Summit at Snoqualamie,
Mission Ridge, Alaska's Alyeska, as well as Canada's Whistler,
Sun Peaks and Apex. John Kircher's cooperative relationship
with the Muckelshoot Tribe has resulted in Crystal Mountain's
sustainable growth philosophy that keeps the mountains more
pristine and accessible for all, a NW tradition.
Stew was ecstatic when Stevens Pass GM, John Gifford, invited
his Tulalip Tribe to ski and board there, as well as train for
his return to the World Cup Tour in Europe, hoping to beat his
143 mph unofficial record at a "Young" 50. Taos, Mammoth,
49 Degrees, Whistler and Alyeska pioneered ski/boarding programs
for reservation schools, "the No. 1 motivator for Indian
youth," and natural high alternative to kids of all cultures.
The magic of Tabagan and Young
(won a Can Am ski race), connecting at the Expo, also solidified
a dream of Mt Hood's Timberline Ski Area's Rick Wargo, to have
an American Indian Team compete at their Golden Rose Celebrity
Race next spring - likely led by Olympian Billy Kidd (Abenaki)
who suggested the snowdance at Denver's SnowSports Expo last
year - the 15 feet of early snow inspired over 100 ski areas
to join this year's Salute. Transending borders once again,
Whistler shared that it is sponsoring a First Nations' Snowboard
Team for their 2010 Olympics. Voted the "Number 1 Ski Area
in North America," the secret may be the high percentage
of Whistler's employees are First Nations skiers/boarders.
At season end, Idaho's Silver Mt,
host of the North American SnowSports Journalists Association
Conference in April, will include some kind of salute to "America's
First Caretakers" and the visionary ski areas that made
this monumental breakthrough possible.
Seattle's Salute was sponsored by NUTIVA, Northwest Indian College,
Paiute Nation, and SweetLeaf Stevia (discovered by Brazilian
Tribes to keep them diabetes/obesity free).
or 970-404 0687 or 970-9225406
Caption: Raven dancer Gene Tagaban (Tlingit) and speedski champ
Stew Young, stars of Seattle Expo's Snowdance, with L-R, Timberline's
Jim D'Eagle (Lakota), Lisa Santana (Lummi), "Uncle Paul"
(Tlingit), and Olympic host Suzy Chaffee. Young and Tagaban