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The famous Squaw Valley ski resort near Lake Tahoe is changing its name, after much debate and input from Native American tribes. Management of the resort, which will now be known as Palisades Tahoe, said “the old name was derogatory and offensive.”
The California resort made the decision to change its name last summer, as many American institutions and communities contemplate the legacy of centuries of racism. Over the past several decades, several other places, in states from Minnesota to Oregon, have removed the term from place names.
In modern usage, the word “squaw” is considered “offensive, derogatory, racist and misogynistic,” said the resort, formerly known as Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, explaining its reasoning.
The change is hailed by the Washoe tribe, whose ancestral lands include the valley where the resort is located. The word “is not from the Washoe people,” as Capital Public Radio reported last year.
“The word itself is a constant reminder of the unfair treatment of the natives, the Washoes,” said Darrel Cruz of the Washoe Tribe Historical Preservation Office. “It’s a constant reminder of those times when it wasn’t good for us. It’s a term that was put on us by someone else and we don’t agree with it.”
“The Washoe people have lived in the area for thousands of years,” said Serrell Smokey Tribe President in a statement. Noting the tribe’s respect for its history, he added, “We are very happy with this decision; today is a day that many have been working towards for decades.
The name Squaw Valley will live on maps, in part because it’s also attached to another location in California – a community in Fresno County. As a resort official told member resort KUNR last year, the similar names prompted the U.S. Postal Service to nickname the Valley Post Office at Olympic Valley Ski Resort, due to the organization of the 1960 Olympic Winter Games.
Earlier this year, officials in Squaw Valley, Fresno County also discussed the idea of changing the name, sparking debate in that community about the relevance of the term and who should decide if it. must change.
“This name lends itself to complicity,” Roman Rain Tree, who identifies with the Dunlap band of Mono Indians and the Choinumni tribe, told Valley Public Radio.
Shirley Guevara, vice president of the Dunlap Band of Mono Indians, said, “At some point you have to take a stand and say that is not acceptable.
Other place names in the Sierra Nevada and beyond are also considered, including Lake Tahoe itself. The name comes from a mispronunciation of the word Washoe for Lake – “Da ow” – so that basically means, Lake Lake.
“In our communities we don’t often talk about it derogatory or something like that, rather we laugh at the kind of nonsense it creates by combining two languages”, Herman Fillmore, director of cultural and linguistic resources for the tribe Washoe. from Nevada and California, told Capital Public Radio.