Snow Dance ceremony brings smiles, snowfall
Forty years ago, Box’s father, Eddie Box, led members of the Ute tribe in a snow dance and ceremony. Two days later a blizzard hit the area and the snow didn’t stop until April.Box was part of that ceremony, and was back Thursday to recreate that event. Like his father before him, he brought his family.”The day I was here 40 years ago, there was no snow,” Box told the crowd of about 250 people gathered at the base of the Eagle Bahn Gondola Thursday morning.In Vail and places like it, he said, all things begins with snow. And all snow begins with The Creator.”We give thanks to the Creator who gave us this snow today,” he said.Eddie Box Jr. started with the One with whom all things started: The Creator, Grandfather, God.Box led several hundred people as they prayed for peace and harmony, safety. He prayed to the four directions, asking The Creator to bless everyone there, for all the people skiing in Vail, their families, and even their enemies.”They’re humans, too,” said Box, whose Indian name is Buffalo.The ceremony was relatively short – about 15 minutes including Eddie Box’s prayer in which he called The Creator “Grandfather,” in the ancient Ute tradition. It ended with Eddie inviting the entire crowd to join them in a Circle of Friendship, as the snow cascaded down.The Song Remains the SameBox’s son, Matthew, whose Indian name is “I Am A Buffalo, Too,” learned the ceremony from his father and grandfather, who learned it from their fathers and grandfathers, as it has been for thousands of years. Sometimes someone tosses in some personalized twist, but the foundations remain the same.”There’s a specific way of doing it,” Matthew patiently explained. “If you’re done with the ceremony and some little kid bangs the drum, you have to start the whole thing over.”The good stuff never changes.It’s not a performance; it’s real. Matthew said they’ve presented the Snow Dance ceremony three times: 1963 in Vail, once in Telluride and once at Cuchara Valley ski areas. All three resulted in heavy snow, and given the weather Thursday’s ceremony in Vail was no less effective.It’s about the harmony, said Betty Box, Box’s wife of 37 years (Hummingbird is her Indian name) – harmony with the Earth and each other.”To do this properly, you need to get rid of things that don’t belong, things like jealousy and greed,” she said. “Then we thank The Creator for answering our prayers for snow.”Timing is everything, and The Snow Dance, Matthew said, isn’t really a snow dance at all. It’s a sunshine ceremony, and included Eddie and Matthew, father and son, drumming and singing The Sunshine Song. Traditionally, Matthew said, it’s only sung at the Sundance Ceremony, held every summer.”When it’s sung in the offseason, it causes snow and for generations they didn’t want snow. We had plenty,” said Matthew. “Unless it’s something specific like this, it’s never sung in the offseason.”——–Vail Founders Days celebrates the dreamThe 2002-2003 season marks the 40th anniversary for Vail Mountain.Pete Seibert, a 10th Mountain Division soldier and Vail’s founder, had a vision that this ski mountain would be an international success. His vision became a reality when Vail Mountain opened for skiing on Dec. 15, 1962, boasting one gondola, two chairs, eight ski instructors and a $5 lift ticket. They drew 38 paying customers that day.Vail celebrates its 40th anniversary Dec. 11-15 with a variety of community events, including a snowshoe race, ski and snowboard race, fireside chats, town historic tours, a parade, fireworks, and more.Vail Founders Days- $40 Lift Tickets available Sunday, Dec. 15- Register to compete in the “Snowshoe for the 40th” Snowshoe Race- Register to compete in the “Vail Daily Ski & Snowboard Cup”- Town Historic Tours- Fireside Chats at the Colorado Ski MuseumFor additional information on Vail’s 40th anniversary events, pleasecall the Vail Activities Desk at 970/476-9090.Daily schedule:- Friday, Dec. 13:10 a.m. Vail Ski and Snowboard Cup, Golden Peak, 476-51192 p.m. Town Historic Tour, Ski Museum, 476-18763:30 p.m. Colorado Ski Museum Apres Fireside Chat, Ski Museum, 476-18765 p.m. 40th Anniversary Parade, Vail Village, 477-0111x.126-7 p.m. Apres 40 Pub-Crawl, Vail Village, 477-0111 x.12Saturday, Dec 14:- 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Founders Tracks: Meet and ski with the founders, Ski Museum, 476-18762 p.m. Town Historic Tour, Ski Museum, 476-18763:30 p.m. Colorado Ski Museum Apres Fireside Chat, Ski Museum, 476-18766 p.m. Torch Ski Down Parade, Golden Peak, 477-0111 x.126:15 p.m. Fireworks, Golden Peak, 477-0111 x.12- Sunday, Dec. 15: Inaugural Founders Day/Vail’s 40th Anniversary opening date. Vail offers $40 lift ticket rate at ticket window. (Packages include $40 lift ticket rate for the week.8 a.m. Inaugural Dedication of Dec. 15 as Vail Founders Day, Vista Bahn, 477-0111 x.12.8 a.m. First Light, First Tracks, Vista Bahn, 477-0111 x.128:45 a.m. Pancake Breakfast, Mid-Vail, 477-0111 x.122 p.m. Town Historic Tour, Ski Museum, 476-18763:30 p.m. 40th Anniversary Cake Celebration, Seibert Circle, 477-0111 x.12For additional information on all events, call Joe Blair at 477-0111 x.12
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