Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows Ski Resort in Northern California – home of the 1960 Winter Olympics – changed its ‘racist and sexist’ name that’s rooted in Lewis and Clark times after more than a year of backlash.
The ski resort’s new name will be Palisades Tahoe, effective immediately.
The Olympic Valley resort in the Lake Tahoe region has 6,000 skiable acres on two mountains and sees about 400 inches of snow every year, according to its website.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word ‘squaw’ as an offensive term for an indigenous woman and is a shortened form of the original Mohawk word ‘otsikwaw,’ which is translated to mean ‘vagina.’
During the late 1700s and 1800s, the word was hijacked by white settlers and used to describe a Native American woman who provided sexual favors to white men.
The resort in Olympic Valley, California has 6,000 skiable acres on two mountains and sees about 400 inches of snow every year, according to its website
The popular ski resort in Northern California changed its name, which drew raise from the Washoe Tribe, who lived in area before white settlers took it over
Merriam-Webster is one of more than half a dozen dictionaries – including the Oxford Language Dictionary, Dictionary.com, American Heritage Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary, Collins Dictionary and Macmillan Thesaurus – to describe the word as ‘offensive’ next to definition.
An internal report from July 2020 also said many press guidelines for major publications – such as Fox and its affiliates, the Associated Press and USA Today, among others – classify the term as ‘derogatory’ or call it a ‘racial slur.’
‘With the momentum of recognition and accountability we are seeing around the country, we have reached the conclusion that now is the right time to acknowledge a change needs to happen,’ Ron Cohen, president and COO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, told CNN.
‘While we love our local history and the memories, we all associate with this place as it has been named for so long, we are confronted with the overwhelming evidence that the term “squaw” is considered offensive.
‘As much as we cherish the memories we associate with our resort name, we must accept that these emotional attachments do not justify our continuing use of a word that is widely accepted to be a racist and sexist slur.’
The former Squaw Valley ski resort – now renamed Palisades Tahoe – was founded in 1949 and hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics
The name change was announced Monday in an Instagram post following more than a year of backlash, which was followed by research and discussion.
‘Today marks the first day of the next chapter of our resort’s storied history,’ Palisades Tahoe said in its Instagram post.
‘From our founding in 1949 and hosting the 1960 Winter Olympics, to the free-skiing pioneers and Olympians that put us on the map, the last seven decades have cemented our mountains’ place in the halls of ski history.
‘While the name may be new, the legend and legacy of these valleys continue on, now as Palisades Tahoe. #PalisadesTahoe.’
Formerly Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows ski resort in Northern California said on Instagram that it will be dropping the ‘racist’ and ‘sexist’ word ‘squaw’ from its name: ‘While the name may be new, the legend and legacy of these valleys continue on, now as Palisades Tahoe. #PalisadesTahoe’
Petitions for the ski resort to change its name was signed by thousands of people last year, and the resort began the process of changing its name.
It first dove into the history of the word and said in a an internal July 2020 report that fur traders in the 1700s and 1800s used the Native American term to ‘denote a woman who provides sexual satisfaction to white men.’
It was used in this fashion by well-known writers throughout the 1800s, including James Fenimore Cooper’s ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ which was published in 1826.
Scroll down to the bottom for full report.
Two of the 18 slides of the power point presentation about the name change from July 2020 (scroll down to see all slides)
There are several origin stories of the naming of Squaw Valley but two are considered the most likely while the rest are ‘mostly legend’
‘Before the advent of white settlers, Squaw Valley was a summer tribal ground for the native Washoe Indians. Many theories have been advanced as to the origin of the name. Among them is the legend of the faithful squaw waiting patiently in the valley for her warrior brave to return, not knowing he had been killed in battle with the Paiutes.’
‘A logical source of the name is based on fact. When the first emigrants moved through the valley in 1849-50 they were surprised to find only squaws and children at the summer encampment. The bucks were away on a trek to Long Valley, 16 miles to the southeast over the granite ridge from Lower Hell Hole and the Rubicon River. There they hunted the “picket pin” gopher and caught grasshoppers to augment the tribe’s food supply. Since the emigrants found a majority of squaws in the base camp they named it Squaw Valley.’
Source: Edward Scott’s 1960 book ‘Squaw Valley,’ which is the most commonly reference origin story, via Palisades Tahoe.
Before white settlers took over the area of Northern California, where the ski resort is located, it was the home of the Washoe Tribe, who praised the name change as a ‘bold’ decision.
‘They were willing to do it,’ Serrell Smokey, the tribe’s chairman, told The New York Times.
‘They were not forced. Of course the tribe pushed them for many years. But the fact that they were willing to do the right thing and get rid of this very hurtful word that was in the name of their resort was just really bold.’
The name changes comes at a time when the United States is undergoing what some refer to as ‘cancel culture.’
The country’s racial reckoning has included Native America the removal of what some consider to be offensive Native American terms.
Over the last year, Washington D.C. dropped the word ‘Redskins’ from its football’s team and the Cleveland baseball team dropping the word ‘Indians’ from its team name.
The debate raged last week after America’s largest Confederate statue – the 12-ton bronze statue of Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia – was removed from its pedestal.
The removal of the General Lee drew criticism from conservatives and some historians, most notably from former President Donald Trump.
‘Our culture is being destroyed and our history and heritage, both good and bad, are being extinguished by the radical left, and we can’t let that happen,’ Trump said in an emailed statement.
‘If only we had Robert E. Lee to command our troops in Afghanistan, that disaster would have ended in a complete and total victory many years ago.
‘What an embarrassment we are suffering because we don’t have the genius of a Robert E. Lee!’
Full July 2020 internal report by the Palisades Tahoe Sky Resort