CREATIVE PEAKS II: Tribal Shred

By on February 23, 2016

Native kids trade reservation for turns this week.

The second annual Intertribal Winter Sports Summit hosts Native youth from reservations across the country. Participants will learn to ski and snowboard and  engage in cultural exchanges. (Photo: Coyotl group)

The second annual Intertribal Winter Sports Summit hosts Native youth from reservations across the country. Participants will learn to ski and snowboard and  engage in cultural exchanges. (Photo: Coyotl group)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Long before the gondola or the aerial tram—before Jackson Hole Mountain Resort was even an idea— it, and the land around Jackson, provided hunting grounds and homeland for Native Americans.

“This is native land,” said Jeremy Pague with the Coyotl Group, a nonprofit that puts on the Intertribal Winter Sports Summit.

For the second time the Coyotl Group is bringing youth from reservations to Jackson to learn to ski and snowboard for a week for the summit. This year, the 15 participants hail from Minnesota, New Mexico, South Dakota and Wyoming’s Wind River Indian Reservation. Eventually, Pague hopes to see the program helping 40 to 50 Native youths.

The event is meant to show kids a life off the reservation and bring them together to talk about their shared and different experiences. It’s also meant to introduce them to snow sports. “That’s why we live here,” Pague said. “We all ski and snowboard. We know the benefits of these sports in our lives. It gets us outside and provides us exercise. It’s a conduit for these other teachings of patience, strength and good diet.”

Some of the kids live on reservations near small ski areas, or in communities with big skateboarding cultures, and, therefore are likely to continue with the sport. For some it might be a one-time foray into skiing or snowboarding, but it’s still an important opportunity to expose them to what options are available, and to kids from other reservations, Pague said.

The event also brings youth leaders from the reservations together to collaborate on projects and learn from each other, Pague said.

The kids ski and snowboard all week. Volunteers are welcome to join them on the mountain. People are also invited to the opening ceremony, which starts at about 8:30 a.m., Wednesday. Organizers and kids will gather at the top of the Bridger Gondola in a circle for a blessing and prayer. The week event ends 7 p.m, Saturday with a party at the Pink Garter Theatre. “The Seventh Fire,” a documentary on native gangs, will screen. The film is free but donations, which will help fund next year’s summit, are welcome. PJH

Intertribal Winter Sports Summit starts at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday with ceremony at the top of the Bridger Gondola. Ceremony is open to the public. Finishes at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Pink Garter Theater, free, donations accepted.

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