SALT LAKE CITY ? The coalition that brought together American Indian officials, athletes and spiritual leaders to become part of Winter Olympics 2002 continues to encourage young athletes to experience winter sports.
Billy Kidd, former Olympian gold medal winner who claims American Indian heritage, started the Ute ski program at Steamboat, Colorado. He has obtained more than $300,000 worth of ski equipment from manufacturers and distributors to place at participating ski areas in five states for use by American Indian youth.
Although only a few weeks are left in the winter sport season, many ski resorts in Utah, Colorado, the Northeast and the Midwest are providing American Indian youth with free access to ski slopes and free access to equipment from skiing to snowboarding. The intent is to create a new generation of winter Olympians from Indian country.
The effort will extend to summer sports as well. John Nabor, president of the U.S. Olympic Alumni Association, is encouraging all Olympians to participate in clinics with American Indian youth, whether in winter or summer sports, on reservations across the country.
Furthering the effort, Miss Indian World, Ke Aloha Alo, Native Hawaiian and Apache, has traveled to Europe to promote American Indian involvement in Olympic games. She met with members of the International Olympic Committee and royalty of assorted countries.
Although Alo is an avid snowboarder from Hawaii. One of her priorities is to promote athletic opportunities for American Indian youth. In her meetings with IOC members, she was encouraging the involvement of Indian country in the Olympics Agenda 21 ? Be a Champion for the Environment Program.
"Make concrete steps in a timely way for the sake of all our children," she said.
Miss Indian World speaks fluent French, which she said would create a stronger bridge to Europe.
"Her wit, graciousness, beauty and traditional wisdom in presenting the Euro Champions of Mother Earth with eagle pins won over royalty like the Princes of Bahrain and Sweden, industrialists and environmentalists. She is a brilliant ambassador for Indian country," said Suzy Chaffee, co-chairman of the Native Voices Foundation.
The IOC's Agenda 21 calls for the inclusion of sustainable values in the Olympic movement by strengthening the role and participation of indigenous populations.
Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo. and a former Olympic athlete, offered a strong endorsement for American Indian involvement in the Olympic movement.
"Athletics can play an important and positive role in a young person's life," he said. "I was what you might call a troubled youngster and I can tell you firsthand that when I took part in sports I developed discipline and a work ethic that is with me to this day.
"Sports, and particularly team sports, offer a healthy alternative to drugs, alcohol and the addiction to television many youngsters deal with. The spirit and camaraderie that we enjoyed on the Olympic Team, for instance, is with me today and something I will cherish all my life," he said.