Native American 'Snow Dance' to Close Olympic Heritage Week

History will repeat itself this coming Sunday, January 15th, as the closing day of the Olympic Heritage Week activities will feature a special 'snow dance' performed by Native American dancers The Eagle Wings Dance Group.

Held at the Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park, the closing Ceremonies for Olympic Heritage Week wrap up a week of activities and events in celebration of the 1960 Olympic Winter Games, held in Squaw Valley and on Tahoe's West Shore. The Eagle Wings Dance Group, descendants of the Paiute, Shoshone and Washo Tribes will be offering traditional songs and dances sacred to the tribes represented to the Creator-God in thanks.

In a similar situation just over 50 years ago, an absence of January snow in the Sierra posed similar planning concerns for the organizers of the VIII Winter Olympic Games' Nordic events, which were to be held on Lake Tahoe’s west shore. The nervous organizers of those original Olympics brought in Great Basin dancers to encourage snowfall.

“No snow coverage has presented problems, but has also opened a door to history”, Said Heidi Doyle, the Volunteer and Interpretation Program Manager for California State Parks in the Lake Tahoe Area.  “Sugar Pine Point State Park was the summer home of the Washo peoples and we are thrilled that their traditions will return to the West Shore of Lake Tahoe this winter,” said Doyle.   

"The lack of rain and snow has been a concern in the Native community, as well”, says Lois Kane the Language and Culture Coordinator of the Reno Sparks Indian Colony. The Eagle Wing Dance group performance will conclude with a round dance in which all are invited to participate.  “We could end up with one large round dance with all of the people dancing and praying for snow, said Kane.

Athletes from around the world came to Lake Tahoe to participate in the 1960 Winter Olympic Games. The biathlon and cross country events of the VIII Winter Games were held in what is now Ed Z’Berg Sugar Pine Point State Park.  Portions of the marked Nordic trails, found within the State park, follow the route of the biathlon and men’s events. Olympic Heritage Celebration week celebrates the spirit of athleticism and highlights the unique cultural heritage found within the park and our region.

Past Olympians, officials, and dignitaries from the 1960 Nordic events will also be on hand to commemorate the end of a week celebrating our Olympic Heritage.   The ceremony will take place at Sugar Pine Point State Park in front of a ¼ scale replica of the Tower of Nations from 1960 that now stands at the entrance to Squaw Valley.  The park is located on Highway 89 on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, just south of Tahoma.  The Closing Ceremonies begin at 2:30pm and there is an $8 per vehicle parking fee.

For more information, call Doyle at 530-583-3074 or visit www.tahoewestshoreassoc.com

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