Photograph: Tim Dunn / AP
A popular Lake Tahoe ski resort in California has changed its name to suppress a racist and misogynistic insult after consultations with local Indigenous groups.
The resort, known as Squaw Valley since 1949, will be called Palisades Tahoe, the company said on Monday.
“Over a year ago, we came to the conclusion that it was time to change our name. The reasons were clear – the old name was derogatory and offensive, ”the resort said in a statement. “It didn’t represent who we are or what we stand for. And we could not in good conscience continue to use it.
California’s native nations had long been asking for a name change before the resort, which was a host site for the 1960 Winter Olympics, officially announced its plans last year. Derived from the Algonquin language, the word “squaw” would once have meant “woman,” but it has evolved into a misogynistic and racist term used to denigrate Indigenous women.
“We have been in the region for thousands of years. Olympic Valley is part of the ancestral homeland of the Washoe people. The word itself is a constant reminder of the unfair treatment of indigenous peoples, the Washoe people, ”said Darrel Cruz, of the Washoe Tribe Historic Preservation Office, in a statement provided by the resort. “It’s a constant reminder of those times when it wasn’t good for us. It is a term that was inflicted on us by someone else and we do not agree with it.
While considering a name change, the resort consulted with the Washoe tribe, who previously asked local authorities to remove the insult from places in their ancestral homeland.
The name change decision, announced in August 2020, came after a summer of protests against racism and white supremacy in the United States following the murder of George Floyd. As a result of the protests, cities, schools and parks across California began to reconsider controversial names with racist stories.
The San Francisco School Board approved, but later reversed, a decision to rename 44 schools with names it said honored figures linked to racism, sexism and other injustices. This plan included schools named for Presidents Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson.
Patrick’s Point State Park in Trinidad, California is considering a proposal to change its name to Sue-meg State Park, the original name for the area used by the Yurok people. The Yurok people have officially requested the change because the current name of the park refers to Patrick Beegan, who was accused of murdering indigenous peoples in the 19th century.
Last October, the Placer County Supervisory Board voted to change the name of a racist street in northern Lake Tahoe after local residents gathered signatures demanding the change. The Sierra County Supervisory Board voted in June to rename Jim Crow Road. And the Gold Rush-era town of Placerville voted this year to remove a noose image from its 19th-century logo.
The Associated Press contributed to this report