Race To Save Arctic Led By XC Olympians, McCartney, Redford, And A Million Earth Citizens

   ©Coach Charlie Renfro

By Guest Writer Suzy “Chapstick” Chaffee

In the race to protect the Arctic Circle, its wildlife, and way of life of tens of millions of Arctic Aboriginals of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia who have subsisted by fishing and hunting for eons, some remarkable breakthroughs just happened that give great hope. From Olympians finally giving Alaskan Arctic youth in four remote villages the health and joy of cross country skiing to keep their traditional ways in tack, to a million Earth Citizens, led by Robert Redford and Paul McCartney, calling for making the Arctic a Sanctuary, to the U.S. shutting down nuclear plants when they come up for review after only a few thousand signatures.


This June, 100 stars, led by Redford and Green Peace (GP), launched an initiative to make the Arctic a “Global Sanctuary” at the UN’s RIO+20’s Earth Summit.

“It would ban industrial fishing and offshore oil drilling in the Arctic seas, learning from the destruction of the Gulf of Mexico. Enlightened countries agreeing on such a sanctuary is the only way to GUARANTEE there could be no catastrophic spills, as just one could wipe out the majestic wildlife and marine life that the world’s youth also want to keep in their future,” said Phil Kline, GP’s Senior Oceans Campaigner.

Sir Paul McCartney who helped bring the world “Together” at the London Opening Ceremonies, pointed out at Rio+20 that “Oil companies are exploiting the disappearance of the ice to drill for the very same fuel that caused the melting in the first place.”

On Aug 9, following Japan and Germany, the USA has agreed on SHUTTING DOWN Nuclear Power plants when they come up for review! In addition, the US is also revoking NEW nuclear reactors permits – until the “nuclear waste problem is solved!” It proved that there are still some wise leaders around the world who have integrity with Man and Nature, and citizens uniting can make a difference.

The first Head of State to bring world focus on the melting Arctic glaciers and permafrost displacing their wildlife and Indigenous Peoples, was his Royal Highness Prince Albert of Monaco.  In 2004 and 2006 this Olympian and Lakota adoptee, led research expeditions to the North Pole. There he honored his great grandfather Albert I for founding the Oceanographic Institute over a century ago as a result of hunting with the Lakotas in Wyoming, spending time with Chief Sitting Bull and being adopted by the tribe.

Happy Alaskan Arctic XC Skiers and Coaches at Kotzebue! ©Chris Arend

Also important to the future of the Arctic was 650 Alaskan Arctic youth, the next decision-makers, in April finally having a chance to stay lean, clean and diabetes-free through XC skiing.  It was thanks to the great hearts of 2X US Nordic Olympian Lars Flora and his 17 volunteer coaches who teamed up with the (tribal) NANA Development Corporation and their Maniilaq Diabetes Association.  Wanting to also enhance the longevity of snowsports globally like Redford, owner of Snowdance ski area, Fischer Ski Company and Obermeyer Skiwear contributed gear.

US Olympic Biathete Sara Studebaker, our 17 year old Native American Olympic XC Hopeful Mariah Cooper (Lac Courte Oreille-Oneida), and Alaskan Native Tamra Kornfield were among the coaches who spent a whole month from dawn until dusk spreading this jubilant lifetime sport in the remote NANA region north of the Arctic Circle, home to 4 million Alaskan Inupiat.

“It was “other worldly” skiing through a herd of 2,000 caribou and dog team races while coaching the kids and then training for the Sochi Olympics by skiing between villages,” said Flora.  His longest trip was the 75 miles between Kotzebue and Kiana, which he and coach Dylan Watts did in two days, only because they were pulling a 40-pound sled!

Flora teaching basics, Tyrone Skate Skiing & Getting Air in Noorvik ©Reese Hanneman

Flora said, “The first day in each village was ‘Skiing 101,’ where they learned how to put on skis and pole straps and basic skiing. The second day they played games on skis, and by the third day they were catching air on a hill. They have super-good endurance, and even kindergartners skied for two hours. The kids were so psyched about skiing, especially when they heard their village schools got to keep 20 of the 70 pair of skis, that at the end of the clinics a group of them would happily skate around town.”


Flora said at the end of the launch, “No picture captures the pure joy felt by kids and coaches over the last month.  Thanks to its success we are bringing the youth in 11 other remote villages this boost in 2013!”

Said NANA Development Director Robin Kornfield, “What excites me about NANA Nordic is how the volunteer coaches brought their love for this healthy sport perfectly suited to Arctic youth.”

She shared how this is turning around diabetes and substance abuse that have taken a toll in these uncertain times, and for lack of exciting opportunities during their eight long months of winter.

Now more Alaskan Arctic youth, many great runners, have some equipment to be able to XC ski across the vast expanses in their land of the dancing colors in the night sky. Some may soon be competing in the ski events of their Arctic Winter Games and have Olympic dreams.


Mariah building confidence in girls + girls teaching Mariah how to fish & discussing nutrition= Happy Girl Power & thriving Nations!

More Than Just A Sport: Native Health

“Mariah was an amazing role model, giving the struggling ones confidence,” said Robin. A valedictorian now studying pre-med, Mariah gave nutrition talks at the schools, along with doctors talking about asthma-prevention.

Mariah shared about Stevia, the South American tribal-discovered Zero Carb herbal sweetener that can also help Arctic kids get lean, clean and diabetes-free, thanks to NOW Organic Stevia and NuNaturals donating some product. The latter donates a percentage to the Native American Olympic effort.

Watch for the new Stevia-sweetened beverages since the 40 grams of sugar in colas and pop are the main cause of obesity-diabetes in U.S. and Mexico, whose average citizen consumes 168 grams a day and 15 grams/day is the recommended daily limit.


At the Davis-Ramoth Memorial School in Selawik, assistant principal Susan Daniels saw how these XC coaches influenced the children’s lifestyles. “I heard a student saying, ‘Skiers don’t drink pop.’”

Studies released in December by The Biggest Loser TV Show and world-renowned naturopath, Dr. Gabriel Cousins, found that groups of obese diabetics eating a diet of fresh raw organic fruits and veggies for 30 days ENDED diabetes! (See More)


A Personal Note:

My grandfather suffered from diabetes despite he and my dad loving to hunt and fish, especially with the tribes in Alaska and Canada’s Saskatchewan – their heaven on earth. I am diabetes-free thanks to skiing and eating organic fruits and veggies, especially the highest in nutrients spinach, kale, broccoli, plus lately sunflower, lentil and pea sprouts, which are superfoods that can be grown year round in school windows in 2-12 days. I also put the superfoods spirulina and chia seeds in drinks, which are also solutions to ending malnutrition and world hunger besides planting organic fruit trees at schoolyards. And they are FREE from state/province forestry in US/Canada with FREE help from Jr. Master Gardeners. (See More) By including some of these healthy options in daily meals and using Stevia for the last decade I have even kept my Olympic weight!

As part of the Canadian Government’s healing fund for their boarding school abuses to First Nations(FN) children, they wisely help fund their sports programs to restore their health, spirit and self esteem. For decades they have hired the renowned Firth Sisters (Gwichen FN), Canadian XC Olympians, to teach their fellow Arctic youth (XC Skiing) this fun green form of transportation, which produced a half dozen First Nations Olympians. The Government also funds FN snowboard program at 13 ski areas we helped inspire.

While the U.S., Australia, New Zealand had similar boarding schools, our governments have no such healing programs for tribal youth. See preview of US film starring the top American Indian actors: Older Than America


Therefore, I am proud that our Olympians, SnowSports Industry (SIA) and U.S. ski areas are leading this life-saving healing process by sharing skiing and snowboarding gear and opportunities in their magnificent ancestral lands for the last 16 years. Hail especially to SIA President David Ingimie and Gene Mulvihill, owner of New Jersey’s Mt Creek Ski Area and Waterpark, for helping our Native American Olympic Team Foundation (NAOTF.org) make this progress possible.



Keeping the traditional ways of the Arctic Peoples in tack is critical for maximizing the longevity of our glaciers, permafrost, snowsports and our Civilization since many Northern Elders also work with the weather. In January a “Snowdance Phenomena” swept our Western US Ski Areas, led by Native American Elders in appreciation for this tribal youth outreach, which saved the ski areas from the driest winter in 130 years.  In addition, the snowmelt is critical for drinking water, wildlife and AG, so as a result, this summer’s U.S. crop disaster and fires would have been far worse without the Native American Efforts.

How To Help

How can people further help Arctic youth and preserve the glaciers? More XC gear is needed in the Arctic plus donations. Contact: larsflora@yahoo.com and http://www.facebook.com/NanaNordic.



“Our Arctic glaciers are melting from smog clouds containing black soot from our dirty fossil fuel energy and fumes from toxins in household products that are blown north on the trade winds from Asia, U.S., Canada and Europe,” says Aleut/Unangan biologist George Pletnikoff, overseer of the three Arctic oceans. Therefore shift to all natural products, renewables, electric cars and conserve energy.

These smog clouds also blanket ski areas causing snow droughts and then fires that further heat the planet. The Selawik wind turbines, Alaskan Airlines’ solarized remote airports, and MountainRidersAlliance.org’s up-coming renewable-powered Manitoba Ski Area are shining models of a sustainable Alaska, thanks also to tax incentives.

The toxins banned in Europe that do the most harm to people, oceans, glaciers, and cause droughts to crops and snowsports, include: pesticides, herbicides, corn & soy GMO’s, nano-particles, mercury, phthalates, rug cleaning solvents, chlorine, fluoride, synthetic fragrances (altar hormones & in detergents destroy immune systems of marine life), formaldehyde, color dyes, aluminum, sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates, PVC, parabens, benzene, synthetic hormones, and petroleum. Nuclear radiation is more destructive than all of them put together. Until America’s laws and EPA start protecting us from toxins, Oprah says, “Vote at the marketplace.” All Natural products have only a handful of ingredients. To protect her children developmentally Latino actress Jessica Alba created toxin-free Honest.com baby products, and I am developing an organic lip balm!

So hail to you and these Princes of Nature for helping preserve the eco-systems and wildlife of our circumpolar populations living mainly along the Arctic Oceans. Making the Arctic a Sanctuary would protect it from an oil feeding frenzy led by Shell, which created the largest spill in UK’s history and their Alaskan fleet doing exploratory drilling there now that “doesn’t meet EPA standards.”  Given that deep water drilling, especially under ice, is untested and a spill cleanup under the ice impossible, here is how you can help prevent an Arctic Ecocide and keep this priceless KEY to all our dreams pristine: http://www.savethearctic.org

Alaska Native Youth-In Closing

Hail also to these champions of Alaskan Native youth and to the Sami’s (Laplanders) of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia, whose ancestors helped pioneer skiing that we love so much!

In the lower 48, Mariah got her XC start thanks to SIA donating gear in 2002 to help create a generation of healthy Native American Olympians. NAOTF spread them to over 40 tribes, including XC equipment to the Midwestern Indian Nations. We then encouraged the organizers of Wisconsin’s Jr. Birkie to include Native youth as racers, not just as dancers at their opening ceremonies with the Governor. In appreciation, the Lac Courte Oreilles and Hochunk Elders led prayers that helped restore snow to two Birkebeiner Races, praised by foreign sponsors/skiers, and Mariah came in second with 14 countries. Yet despite this win-win opportunity local race officials have been erratic in including our Native youth, but thanks to Billy Kidd (Abenaki), she has gotten Nordic Olympic coaching in Colorado through Steamboat’s renowned program.

Anchorage has some Native XC support (plus Alpine at Alyeska ski area) that helped Tyler Kornfield, Tamra’s 19 yr old brother, win the sprints at the 2012 National XC Ski Championships, which gives all Native American youth great hope and pride like other cultures that have dazzled us at these London Olympics. Could Tyler be an Olympic Hopeful for Sochi 2014 with Mariah?


The Elders explain that weather catastrophes are from negative thoughts, words and actions absorbed by the land and need to be released by earthquakes, floods, fires, tornadoes, droughts, and freaky weather, unless we heal each other’s hearts it will continue. While snowdance ceremonies and our shifting to renewable and all natural products raise the vibration of the land and mountains to purify them and prevent droughts, “these natural disasters will happen over and over again until we also melt the icebergs in our hearts and start loving each other as God loves us,” they say.  At our Ute-led Millennial Ceremony with the Mayor in Aspen we forgave everyone and ourselves for the past to stop the reruns and start a blissful new beginning.

Therefore being a part of these tribal outreaches helps preserve tribal traditions, heal hearts, prevent droughts, and keep the Arctic and all ski areas as cool as possible. And the polar bears, seals, and whales are applauding! So let’s create more snow bridges to a breathtaking new dawn!

 © Quackersna… | Dreamstime.

For Questions Or More Information:

Contact:  Suzynativevoices@aol.com, naotf.org, snow-riders.org

Writer Bio: Suzy “Chapstick” Chaffee

 NAOTF co-founder, Olympic downhiller, 3 X World Freestyle Champion, honored by three Halls of Fame for Pioneering Title 1X, Freestyle skiing, and Native Ski Programs, plus by many tribes. As first woman on USOC Board, she led the successful Olympic rule reform in 1975 along with the DC March for Title 1X Equal opportunities for Women Sports in schools, which has since saved America a trillion in healthcare and welfare. All of which made possible along with Billy Jean King (Cherokee) the amazing golden performances of American Women at the London Olympics. She has worked on projects with seven U.S. Presidents, including Fitness Councils, and is now helping Native American talent realize their Olympic dreams and finishing a docu with Aussie producer Nick Pasquale, after the UN urged her to spread the “Snowdance Phenomena” worldwide to share the Elders’ wisdom to prevent more expected snow and crop droughts.



, , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply