Meet The Only Snow Sculpting Team In The United States Made Up Entirely Of Indigenous Women

Andrei Stepanov - - illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

For many years, artists have crafted beautiful and intricate masterpieces out of the winter elements of ice and snow.

The sport of snow sculpting allows artists to show off their skills and creations. It also provides an opportunity for people to tell cultural stories within their works and honor their roots.

A trio of women who call themselves Team Kwe is the only snow sculpting team in the United States made up of entirely Indigenous women, to their knowledge. The winter of 2023 was their first time competing in the National Snow Sculpting Championships.

Heather Friedli, the captain of Team Kwe, has spent 15 years of her life as a professional snow sculptor.

She is joined by her sister, Juliana Welter, a karate teacher, and friend, Maggie Thompson, a textile artist. All three women are based in Minnesota.

The small world of competitive snow sculpting is dominated by men, so being an all-female team makes them special.

The field also lacks Indigenous representation, so the women use their snow sculpting designs to highlight their Anishinaabe roots and share stories of their people.

“Traditionally, in the Ojibwe culture, storytelling season is when there’s snow on the ground,” said Friedli. “For us, telling a story is important.”

The sisters are first-generation descendants of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, while Thompson is of Ojibwe descent.

Andrei Stepanov – – illustrative purposes only, not the actual person

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