Connection, reciprocity and gratitude – Telluride community supports Ute youth ski day
The Telluride Institute hosted 30 skiers and snowboarders for the annual Ute Youth Ski Day Saturday. With a mission to develop and offer innovative programs to advance environmental and cultural resilience, Telluride Institute’s growing Indigenous programs aim to educate people about Indigenous issues to help bridge the gap between communities. Also sponsored by Telski, Telluride Sports, San Miguel County and the Telluride Foundation, the weekend event was the largest local Ute Youth Ski Day in the past 15-20 years.
“Ute Youth Ski Day is especially exciting as it provides the opportunity for Ute youth to enjoy the mountains that are their homelands in a fun, recreational setting,” Telluride Institute Executive Director Tucker Szymkowicz explained. “The ski industry in Colorado is built upon these ancestral Indigenous lands and this fact is something that few tourists or even locals truly understand. Skiing and snowboarding are such fun activities and helping to make these sports accessible to everyone is important as they have become cost prohibitive to so many people.”
This year’s adventure was led by Lia Cristadoro, a graduate fellow from Western Colorado University who’s earning a master’s degree in environmental management. As part of her master’s project, which focuses on “enhancing inclusivity in cultural collaboration,” Cristadoro serves as the organization’s watershed education program director. Kia Whiteskunk from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and Virgil Morgan from the Southern Ute Tribe initiated youth sign-ups several months ago via their respective recreation centers.
“I was talking with a mom who was one of the chaperones, and she said that this experience taught her to ski,” Cristadoro said. “And now her boys go.”
The group caravanned to Telluride Friday afternoon and proceeded to secure rental gear, donated by Telluride Sports, and day ski passes, donated by Telski. The resort also provided instructors for the day. With financial support from San Miguel County and the Telluride Foundation, the organization was able to include more participants — 25 students between the ages of 13 and 18, along with five chaperones — all of whom live on the reservation.
An article from the Telluride Daily Planet
Amy Peters, December 20, 2022