Iconic Ski Resort Squaw Valley Will Change Name to Remove Racist Slur

words :: Ben Osborne

This morning the ski resort Squaw Valley, located in Lake Tahoe California announced that they would be removing the term ‘Squaw’ from their name, with a new name coming in 2021.

While details aren’t specific, after decades of disapproval and a recent groundswell in pressure to remove the racist slur, the resort has finally come to terms with a name change.

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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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“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”, said Ron Cohen, the resort’s president and COO.

Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of this at the world-class resort. Photo :: Megan Michelson

The term ‘squaw’, derived from the Algonquin language, originally meant ‘woman’ but over the years became a racist term to refer to Indigenous peoples throughout North America.  As the story goes, when colonizers arrived in the area that is now Squaw Valley, they saw many Indigenous women there, prompting them to name the area.

To be more welcoming, conscious, and open-minded as an entire outdoor community is something we all need to work on, and small changes like this are, if nothing else, a symbolic step in the right direction. —ML