After 524 inches of record breaking snow the year before, Winter 2011/2012 was getting off to a slow start. It was late December and powder days had been scarce in Colorado and most other parts of the country. Hardcore skiers and riders were getting restless. It was time to call in reinforcements.
Long before settlers came to the Gore Creek Valley, Southern Ute Indians inhabited the area as a summer home. In December of 1962, Vail co-founder Pete Seibert invited members of the tribe to perform a snow dance to bring good luck to Vail’s inaugural season. Staring into yet another cloudless blue sky, Vail decided it was time to take cue from the founders.
When we first contacted the Southern Ute Indian Tribe at their headquarters in Ignacio, CO, we weren’t certain that they would recall the dance that was performed at Vail nearly 50 years before. As luck would have it, Tribal Elder Eddie Box Jr. had taken part in the 1962 ceremony when his father led the dance. He and his partner, Betty Box or “Hummingbird Woman”, agreed to come with several members of their tribe to perform a precipitation ceremony on behalf of “all who need it”.
Early on January 7th, 2012 the Boxes and several other members of the Southern Ute Tribe started the ceremony a half hour before the lifts began to turn. By the time they finished flakes were beginning to fall and by the end of the day eight inches had fallen in Vail and nearby resorts.
The tribe members, having anticipated snowy and slick roads, had their luggage packed and wasted no time leaving right after the ceremony ended.
See the Snow Dance and resulting powder day here: