Pajarito Mountain Ski Area in New Mexico launched a snow sports outreach in January to benefit the tribal youth of New Mexico and Arizona.
Ski instructors, including former Olympian Suze “Chapstick” Chaffee, taught kids and chaperones of the Laguna, Acoma, Ohkey Owingeh and Pajoaque Pueblos the basics of skiing down their Los Alamos Mountains. The resort also extended a special $25 price to tribal youth, inviting them back.
“Plus those with tribal membership IDs of New Mexico or Arizona can also purchase a full-day lift ticket, including rentals, for a flat fee of $25 on Friday to Sunday and holidays,” said Tom Long, Pajarito’s general manager. “Cultural diversity is the key to the future of skiing and cornerstone to a wonderful life.”
New Mexico’s skiing Senator Tom Udall, who encouraged the program 10 years ago, hopes more ski areas will follow Taos and Pajarito, especially because Apache leaders say “snow sports are the No. 1 motivator of their youth. Such outreach also fulfills the National Forest Service mandate “to provide opportunities for Native Americans on forest lands.”
Chaffee co-founded the Native Voices Foundation in 1996, now called the Native American Olympic Team Foundation (NAOTF).
(READ the story, w/ photos, in Indian Country Today and WATCH the video below)