Squaw Valley Announces Name Change


Squaw Valley Announces Name Change

Squaw Valley’s New Name Will Be Announced in 2021

Squaw Valley announced earlier this week that it will change its name and drop the term “squaw.”

This extensive research into the etymology and history of the word came from an undeniable movement seeking both racial equality and justice, and this term is considered both a racist and sexist slur.

According to the resort’s announcement, this type of misogynistic and derogatory terminology is contrary to the company’s core values and beliefs.

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Today is a difficult but exciting day in the long and storied history of Squaw Valley. After extensive historical research, consultation with Native American groups (including the local Washoe tribe), and outreach to our local and wider community, we have decided it is time to drop the derogatory and offensive term “squaw” from our resort’s name. Work to determine a new name will begin immediately and will culminate with an announcement of a new name in 2021. We plan to implement the name change after the winter season concludes in 2021. While the name of the resort will ultimately change, the things you love about Squaw Valley—that made you seek out our resort, join our mountain community and build cherished memories here—those will remain the same. This special place will always be the location of the 1960 Winter Olympics, the home of our beloved KT-22 chairlift and the legendary big mountain terrain where extreme skiing pioneers changed the sport forever, and the treasured mountain home for so many people who revere this amazing ski resort. For more information on this decision, as well as the history surrounding the word “squaw,” please visit our website. [link in bio]

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Why Is This Word Considered Offensive?

In a thoughtful statement on its FAQ page, Squaw Valley explains that the resort was named in 1949, and while there was no intent to be derogatory or offensive, societal norms evolve. More and more has been learned about the origin of this word through extensive research and discussion. The resort goes onto say “there is now insurmountable evidence, dating back to the early 1800s, that the term has long been used as a derogatory and dehumanizing reference to a Native American woman.”

Others Have Made This Change

The growing recognition of the full history of the word has resulted in all major dictionaries recognizing it as derogatory and/or offensive. This recognition has in turn kicked off calls for changes of placenames (the name of a geographical location, such as a town, lake, or a range of hills).

In the last 25 years there have been dozens of successful efforts to remove the name from locations. In 1995, Minnesota made it illegal to have a “squaw” placename; six more states have followed suit.

The U.S. Forest Service in our region has declared the word offensive with respect to Forest Service placenames. Locally, the Washoe Tribe has actively sought name changes, and has previously asked local government for the removal the term from locations within its ancestral homeland, which includes our resort.

The Response

The announcement – while sprinkled with some… let’s call it, ‘nostalgia’ – has been very well received overall.

“Looks like they did a lot of research on this. If the existing name is offensive and it gives people joy to change it then so be it. My joy is in skiing the mountain. Not the name.” – P. Saffarian

Another user goes on to say, “Really well done laying out the history of this. I think a fair number of us did not truly realize this history and negative connotations of the word. At the very least this has helped educate and enlighten a lot of people. And more importantly this is the right thing to do to change this name.” – E. Klein

When Will We See A New Name?

A renaming project team headed by resort leadership has already started the process and a new name will be announced by 2021 and implemented by the 2021-22 winter season.

What do you think Squaw Valley should change its name to? Shoot us an email or sound off in the comments on Facebook with your suggestion. Keep it classy, kids.

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