Scapegoat found for lack of snow |

Scapegoat found for lack of snow

Andy Bourelle

About 10 years ago, North Shore business organizations had an idea that holding a Native American “Snow Dance” might help break the drought.

Jim Jeffers, executive director of the Incline Village and Crystal Bay Chamber of Commerce, laughs now when people blame the chamber for the lack of snow this season. North Shore’s annual October Snow Dance was canceled in 1999, the first time since the event’s inception.

“People are making light of it, pointing fingers at the chamber,” Jeffers said with a laugh.

And it isn’t as if the Snow Dance has a long-running history of bringing white winters to Lake Tahoe. Neither of the two tribes from this area, the Washoe and Paiute Indians, traditionally had snow dances. In fact, they came to Tahoe during the summer to hunt and fish. When it snowed, that meant the Indians had to move back down to the valleys.

“We apologize to everybody because there’s no snow,” Jeffers said. “But I have to be honest with you. If you talk to any Native Americans, they’ll tell you, ‘Why would we have a snow dance? We had to leave when it snowed.’

“When the snow came early, it really caused problems for them. If anything, they would have danced for no snow.”

At the annual event, dancers from Indian tribes all over the West participated.

Jeffers said some years when the Indians would dance at the event, the winter would be dry. Other years, there would be snow within a few weeks.

The Snow Dance festival was canceled last year to give the chamber extra time to reorganize it and improve it. This year it should be back, likely with a new name, minus the “snow” part.

“What we’re going to come up with for 2000 is an educational and cultural event,” Jeffers said. “We really want to go after the history of the tribes in the Lake Tahoe area.

“What we plan to do is make this one of the major events at Lake Tahoe,” he added.

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