In Vail, Colorado, members of the Southern Ute Indian tribe gathered this past Saturday at the base of the Vista bahn chair life in Vail Village. The mountain, like many resorts in the area, was having a little problem—a lack of snow.
There at the base of the lift, Southern Ute royalty Little Miss Southern Ute Alternate, Yllana Chanelle Howe, 7, Junior Miss Southern Ute, Izabella “Oewichichi” Howe, 10, and their mother, Marquettea Howe, helped lead a crowd of hundreds in a Southern Ute snow dance. Those gathered around couldn’t ignore the fact that, as the Southern Utes performed their ritual, the snow fall increased.
“It appears to be working,” Vail Mountain Marketing Director Adam Sutner told Vail Daily.
Vail Daily reported that this was only the third time in the resort’s 49-year history that they were privileged with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s performance of this prayer. Two tribe members, Eddie Box Jr. and his wife Betty, who were present at the prayer, had been to Vail Mountain before. Box first came in 1962, the resort’s inaugural year, and performed the dance with his father, Eddie Box Sr.
When Vail Mountain opened in 1962, they found the first year of their operation wasn’t going according to plan—the snow wasn’t falling. So they called on the oldest continuous residents of Colorado, the Southern Utes, to come to the mountain and perform a prayer.
Sunter told Vail Daily that after the Southern Utes performed the snow dance that first year, the snow fell, and fell, and fell. So this season, which has gotten off to a very dry start, Vail Mountain officials thought they should better contact the Southern Ute Indian tribe again. So they came, and so did the snow.
The last time the dance was performed was in 1999, when the mountain was hosting the World Alpine Ski Championships.
Wouldn’t you know…that year saw a lot of snow.