I was in middle and high school during the glory days of the Buffalo Bills, so I grew up with years of them making the playoffs and getting all the way to the Super Bowl when I was in grades 8-11. Back then, to me, the Super Bowl was a holiday. As an eighth grader, I remember being at my friend’s house, my girlfriends and I all standing up and anxiously holding hands as Scott Norwood kicked that fateful field goal. Enough said about that.

Fast forward to 2017. Now when Super Bowl Sunday rolls around, there’s really only one thing on my mind—skiing. Those who make it to the slopes on this day know it’s one of the absolute best days of the winter to be out there, and the reason is that it’s Super Bowl Sunday and nobody is thinking about skiing.

As expected, Holiday Valley was a ghost town last Sunday afternoon. We got onto the Yodeler lift without waiting at all, and started taking run after run, enjoying near-perfect conditions and comfortable temps.

At some point, my daughters and my nephews discovered one of the “clan rocks.” This turned into trying to find all of them, which are scattered throughout the resort. If you aren’t familiar with these, check out the article below. After finding all of them, in between getting in a ton of the best runs of the season with zero wait time in between, we ended our day at the “Fort” along the middle of the Tannenbaum trail—the first time any of us had actually been inside of it. It’s amazing the things you notice and have time to explore when you seemingly have the place to yourself.

When headed home around 6:30 (it seemed so much later because we had skied so much!), all four of the kids said this was their favorite time skiing EVER. That’s saying a lot and I’d have to agree. No matter how many times we’ve been to Holiday Valley, there’s always something new to discover and a new adventure to be had. Next year, when Super Bowl Sunday rolls around, I’d love to be watching our beloved Bills playing in it. But, in case that doesn’t happen, consider joining me on the slopes in Ellicottville!

Alicia Dziak, Editor, Ellicottville Times

The Clan Rocks at Holiday Valley

Winter after winter, folks skiing and riding on the slopes of Holiday Valley are unaware that there is a wonderful surprise hiding just off the trails throughout the resort.

In 1992, Holiday Valley placed carved Clan Rocks throughout the resort to pay homage to the Seneca Nation, one of the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy who occupied the land in Western New York where Holiday Valley is located. Within the Seneca Nation, there are eight clans and each clan is represented by an animal with certain respected traits. Seneca storyteller DuWayne Bowen provided the information below about the Seneca Nation and the meaning of each clan animal.

Holiday Valley designed the Clan Hunt Challenge for children enrolled in the children’s Mountain Adventure Program to encourage them to explore the resort while learning about local Native American culture. The program challenges kids to have a “Clan Hunt” where they ski around the resort with their instructor in search of the secret Indian Clan Rocks.  A map is provided and stickers representing the clans are placed at the location of each clan rock.  Once all the clan rocks are found, the kids head to The Fort, hidden away in the woods of Tannenbaum, to find out how the clans all tie together. Not only is this a great mountain adventure where kids learn how to follow a trail map, but they also learn about Native American culture in the Western New York area.

8 Seneca Nation Clans

There are eight clans among the Seneca people that are divided into the animal family and the bird family.

Snipe Clan

doh-wees’ doh-wee”

The snipe clan had the fewest members. The snipe is a gentle water bird but has a piercing cry.

Beaver Clan

“nah-gohn-yaht’ goht”

The beaver is the busiest of all animals. He is admired for his working skills and perseverance. He is such a good worker that he can work during the day as well as the night.

Heron Clan – “joh-eh-seh”

The great blue heron is noted for his great patience. He is an excellent hunter and is admired for his great hue of blue.

Hawk Clan


The hawk is one of the best hunters in the world. He is swift, silent and deadly. He can see a rodent from his flight 1,000 feet in the air.

Deer Clan “nyo-geht”

The deer is admired for his swiftness, grace and beauty. He is one of the most revered of all the animals. The deer is so respected, he is the only animal included in the bird clan families.

Turtle Clan

“haht’ noh-wah”

At the time of creation, the great turtle gave permission to build the Earth upon his great shell. The Iroquois people call the Earth “Turtle Island.”

Bear Clan “nya-gwi”

The bear is revered by both man and animal. Bears are excellent warriors, wise, protective of young, fat and full of humor.

Wolf Clan


The most intriguing clan, the wolf is feared for his warrior and hunting skills. He is strong and swift. He is admired for his family loyalty and will take one mate for a lifetime. The wolf clan is part of many Native American people. The native wolf clan goes from ocean to ocean.

Seneca clanship is strong and was in place before recorded time, not only here but across all of North America. Each Seneca child follows the clanship of their mother and each child is named by the clan mother. An Indian name is never duplicated during a person’s life.

The clan mothers also decide which man will be “Chief” and have the power to take the title away. Men have no authority to be “Chief” until the clan mothers appoint them.

Next time you are exploring the slopes of Holiday Valley, try finding all eight of the Clan Rocks with your own Clan Hunt.