A year ago, the Squaw Valley Board of Directors decided it needed to change the name of the Lake Tahoe ski resort.
This new name has been announced:
On its website, the board of directors said the name “Squaw Valley” was derogatory and offensive.
The resort, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, and Alpine Meadows belong to the same owner. Alpine will keep its name. The two stations, connected by a cable car, will be known collectively as the Palisades Tahoe.
Palisades Tahoe President Dee Byrne said the name change shows the resort can adapt to the modern age.
“This name change reflects who we are as a ski resort and community – we have a reputation for being progressive and revolutionary when it comes to the exploits of skiing and snowboarding,” Byrne said in a press release. “We have proven that these values go beyond snow for us. It is an incredibly exciting time to be a part of Palisades Tahoe and after more than 10 years in the resort I am honored to lead our team into this new era.
Washoe Tribe Historical Preserver Darrel Cruz said the name “Squaw Valley” was a reminder of the unfair treatment of Native Americans.
“We have been in the region for thousands of years. Olympic Valley is part of the ancestral homeland of the Washoe people,” said Cruz. “It’s a constant reminder of those times when it wasn’t good for us. It’s a term that was inflicted on us by someone else and we don’t agree with it.”
The resort’s new logo is said to represent the history of Olympic Valley and the Washoe Tribe. Explanation on the resort’s website: “The Eagle is a legendary symbol of freedom that watches over our valleys.
“We added our two mountains in a way that can also be interpreted as eagle feathers or the waters of Lake Tahoe,” the site said. “The shapes refer to the flat terrain and the cliffs of the palisades, while the undulating shapes exude the distinct vibes of California culture.”
The board said there had been many similar efforts across the country to replace the name “Squaw Valley”.
The word “squaw”, derived from the Algonquin language, could once mean simply “woman,” but over generations the word has evolved into a misogynistic and racist term to denigrate Indigenous women.
When settlers arrived in the area where the Sierra Nevada resort is located today in the 1850s, they saw for the first time only Native American women working in a meadow.
It was believed that the land near Lake Tahoe was given the name Squaw Valley by these early settlers.
Jim Krajewski covers high school and youth sports for the Reno Gazette Journal. Follow him on twitter @RGJPreps. Support his work by subscribing to RGJ.com.