Tribal Salute Reversing Manifest Destiny

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"Thanks for keeping the Rockies pristine," says Governor Owens.

"Denver's launch of the 'Salute to America's First Caretakers' at Colorado's SnowSports Expo just might be another reversal of Manifest Destiny," beamed Olympic skier Suzy Chaffee at the Convention Center event on November 6. Two years ago, the New York Times wrote that the "Indian-led return of the buffalo to the Great Plains is resurrecting their ghost towns... and reversing Manifest Destiny."

Thanks to "snow farmers" thoughtfully sharing skiing and snowboarding with their tribes in 14 states, led by Colorado ski areas and the Ute Nation, many tribes were "thrilled" and are sharing their snow ceremonies and sustainable wisdom, which has resulted in amazing early economy-lifting snowblessings -- starting with Vail asking the Utes to save their opening in the '60s. Also hoping the tribes can help them "Keep Winters Cool," ski shows (in Seattle, Sacramento and LA), and over 100 ski areas across America want to follow in Colorado's moccasins...

At the Expo, Governor Owens thanked "the Utes, as well as the diverse Denver Indians, for keeping the Rockies pristine for thousands of years." He also brought attention to Aspen's World Watch Conference that called American Indian Nations "models of sustainability" for preserving a National Seed Bank, the Pacific Northwest Tribes for restoring the fish, and Secretary of Interior Gail Norton's saying that, "Frankly, the reservation forests are in much better shape than those on public lands, and the tribes need those jobs." Plus, Lakota-Sioux Wind Farms will soon energize Aspen. Karen Wilde Rogers (Creek), director of Colorado's Commission on Indian Affairs, spoke on behalf of the Governor.

Karen also conveyed that Lt. Governor Jane Norton congratulated the "ski communities and Olympians for partnering with the tribes to help ensure that future generations will have a chance to enjoy our magnificent mountains."

The Salute was announced at Athens, where world Olympians honored American Indians for inventing the roots of 10 Olympic sports. "They also honored the Sami (Laplanders) for inventing skiing 5,000 years ago," said Olympian Billy Kidd (VT Abenaki), co-host of the Salute with teammate Chaffee, NVF co-founder.

10 skiers from Denver's splendid "Seven Falls Dance Group" shared the snowdance to benefit all the People of Colorado, led by Boulder-based sustainability leader, Woody Vaspra (Hawaiian), President of the World Council of Elders. For health reasons, Southern Ute traditional Elders Eddy and Betty Box, Jr., supported by young sundancers, participated in a simultaneous pipe ceremony in a sweat lodge in Durango, to thank Creator for the snow. Eddy Box, Jr.'s dad (Red Ute), was Vail's hero, and Junior humbly continues that tradition "to create more harmony between our cultures and Mother Earth."

A Salute highlight was the entrance of a speed skier in a shiny fire engine red suit with streamlined helmet, followed by a white sherpa carrying his 8-foot skis. "Who is that masked man?" asked Steamboat's Billy Kidd.

"My name is Stew Young of the Tulalip, Killer Whale Tribe of Washington." At 50, Stew is going back on the World Cup Tour after being the "Fastest Veteran in the US, 3rd in the world in 1998," hoping to beat his unofficial 143-mph record.

"Soon Billy Kidd was joined by Olympic Gold Medal Freestyler Johnny Mosley and Aspen's Gold Medal Snowboarder Chris Klug, all wanting to ski with Stew," said Chaffee, "if he would take it easy on them."

For "going Indian" and wanting to help coach Native American youth, Chaffee and Cherokee artist Colleen Lloyd presented the beloved champions with Native "Homeland Security" T-shirts: a picture of Geronimo and his Apache warriors that says, "Fighting Terrorism since 1492." Besides Indian humor, it's called, "the hottest T-shirt in America," since "More American Indians have been protecting our country and have won more medals of honor than any other race per capita," according to Gen. Schwarzkopf, who helped NVF launch the Telluride ski program.

For making the Salute possible, Chaffee thanked the event sponsors: Denver's Peak Bank, Crystal Springs Golf Club/Spa, Westwind TPTs Shirts, NUTIVA, SweetLeaf Stevia (discovered by Brazilian tribes to prevent diabetes/obesity), and each of the 10 participating Colorado Ski Areas.                                                                

Contact: suzynativevoices@aol.com, or tel: 970-4040687, 970-922-5406 - photos of the event are also available. Photos and more info available on http://www.nativevoices.org.

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Suzanne Chaffee
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