Utes homecoming heroes in Aspen | AspenTimes.com

Utes homecoming heroes in Aspen

The Northern Ute Tribe was treated like homecoming heroes during Aspen’s Wintersköl Parade and Sunlight’s Ute cultural event (near Glenwood) during the Martin Luther King weekend ” a dream come true for the first Americans!

“Skiers yelled to us on the chairlift, ‘Great job. Thank you for the snow,'” said James Martinez, one of Aspen’s Ute Olympic torch carriers. The two ski areas, instructors, as well as Aspen’s ski lodges, restaurants, supermarkets, and recreation center, rolled out the red carpets. That sentiment echoed down the Roaring Fork Valley from Aspen to Rifle (75 miles), where the Fireside Restaurant treated them to a farewell feast.

Aspen’s John Hembel, “The Fastest Man on Skis” (153 mph in 2003), and Olympian Danny Paterson were on hand at the parade and Snowmass’ Fanny Hill to cheer on the 17 Northern Ute kids, some dancing stars of the Utah opening ceremonies. At Sunlight, 10-year-olds Reneesa Ridley and Torrance Miller performed 360s, on their seventh day of skiing.

The fun Ute ski elder, Loya Cesspooch Arrum, led a Gratitude Prayer to the creator at Snowmass on Sunday, which inspired some tears of joy for the 10-plus feet of early snow that most of the Colorado ski areas (especially Aspen, Sunlight and Steamboat) were blessed with following the “Thank you Snowdance” at Denver’s SnowSports Expo in November.

The Utes and Denver Indians, led by Eddie Box Jr., a Southern Ute traditional elder, performed the snowdance in appreciation for six Colorado resorts sharing skiing with them over the last eight years.

Co-chair of Native Voices Foundation and event organizer Suzy Chaffee wanted to be with the kids in the parade, so Shayne Morgan Sledge gave “Suzy Chapstick” a ride in her Toyota Hybrid Prius, which Chaffee dubbed the “Greenmobile.”

Both hoped to advance better guardianship of the Ute ancestral homeland through cleaner air and delay global warming, by bringing attention to Aspen’s free parking opportunities for Prius drivers.

“Hopefully this will accelerate the trend, since Aspen Skiing Co. has won the most ‘Golden Eagle Environmental Awards,’ using wind energy for some lifts and vegetable diesel fuel for its Snowcats. Carbondale’s Catherine Store just started selling veggie oil, clean-burning fuel for biodiesels, (like the Volkswagen Jetta) ” also solutions for farmers and world peace,” said Chaffee, who was related to the late Sen. John Chaffee, who wrote the Clean Air Act.

The Roaring Fork Valley was also honored to have Loya’s friend, Woody Vaspra, president of the World Council of Elders, share his Hawaiian prayer song at the Sunlight event.

Following three days of beautiful sunny skiing and cultural events, thanks to the Great Spirit (feathers and snow/rain don’t mix), it is now snowing again in the Aspen valley!

Contact: Native Voices Foundation, 23 Upper Ranch Rd., Aspen, CO 81611; (970) 922-5406; or http://www.nativevoices.org for more information or pictures.

Suzy Chaffee



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