to create joyful unity through sports and education to help heal Mother Earth for our children, including through the Olympics. By inviting Native Americans back to their majestic ancestral mountains for skiing and honoring celebrations, the wisdom of Native Voices is again being heard clear and strong. Through creating a bridge between our co-existent but different cultures that have different values and priorities, we enrich each other, and create mutual respect and appreciation through skiing, cultural ceremonies, travel, and good times. High risk snow sports at ski resorts build health, self-esteem, leadership skills and bonding friendships, in addition to making educational, job and career opportunities more accessible outside the reservation.
Why Skiing? – What Teachers Say
Over the last 5 years, NAOTF has provided thousands of Native American youth from 10 different tribes: Ute, Lakota, Navajo, Apache, Zuni, Pima, Cree, Pueblo, Cherokee, Omaha, and Abenaki with opportunities to learn a family-oriented life time sport. Teachers say NAOTF’s ski and snowboard programs have inspired better behavior, grades, job opportunities, and alcohol prevent-ion for both high risk and scholar kids. (Native are missing an enzyme that can digest alcohol and sugar as that is relatively new to their diets, just as tobacco is new to ours.) The key to developing one’s full potential is to find a life time sport that connects you to your joy. Many of the kids, like Navajo Prep, organized their whole ski trip. NAOTF’s programs are motivated by Native youth, who then motivate the teachers and parents. Sometimes a whole family of singers, dancers and drummers all ski. Ross Anderson The Ignacio based Southern Utes invited Ross Anderson, a Cheyenne-Apache-Arapahoe speed skier, as he is a beautiful role model for kids of both cultures. He reverently carries the stones of Mother Earth with him and prays for the safety of fellow competitiors.“I’m here to help these youth become champions so that one they they can someday beat my record (140 mph),” he said. (in the video docu promo on this website) A member of the Native American Sports Council, Ross went on to become NAOTF’s ` and to pioneer the program at Durango Mountain Resort and become the “Fastest American on Skis,” and second in the world in 2001. [Top of Page]
Founded in 1996 by Olympic Downhiller and World Freestyle Champion Suzy Chaffee and Colorado Ute Unity Leader, Alden Naranjo, NAOTF is a unique partnership between our cultures – influential leaders of Indian Nations and ski towns, teamed with sports legends, statesmen and journalists.
It was inspired by Daniel “Rollingbears” Quintana, a Lakota-Tewa-Pueblo-Spaniard, living in Telluride, in 1995. Suzy asked, “Would you like to exchange the wisdom of the mountains for the joy of skiing?”
“Sure,” he said, and learned the Eagle dance on skis – 3 360’s in a row, holding hands – his second day skiing. Touched by Suzy and Telluride Ski Company giving back, he saved the town from a snowless Christmas by singing the sacred “4 Directions Song” on the radio and created, with Creator, a blizzard. Coincidentally, Gabriel Cousins, a modern day Essene, (like Jesus, Moses and the three kings), did the same 4 Directions Song, in Hebrew, to open Telluride’s Steps to Awareness Festival.
NAOTF History… “Mother Earth ReallyListens, Ministers Apologizing, Carrying the Wisdom of our Ancestors, Telluride’s First Event, Ross Anderson, and Motivations of Suzy Chaffee and Alden Naranjo