Storied Ski Resort Makes 'a Big, Big Statement'

Squaw Valley, host of 1960 Olympics, changes name to Palisades Tahoe
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2021 8:58 AM CDT
Storied Ski Resort Makes 'a Big, Big Statement'
In this Dec. 16, 2013, file photo, three snowboarders head to the Village at the Squaw Valley Ski Resort in Olympic Valley, Calif.   (Reno Gazette-Journal via AP, File)

The largest ski resort at California's Lake Tahoe will no longer be known as Squaw Valley. The Olympic Valley resort cast off its 72-year-old name on Monday, unveiling its new moniker, Palisades Tahoe. The resort, a host site for the 1960 Winter Olympics, had announced an upcoming name change last August, in the wake of George Floyd's murder and nationwide protests against racism and police brutality. "The reasons were clear—the old name was derogatory and offensive," the resort said in a statement. It previously noted "squaw," an Algonquin word for woman, "has long been used as a derogatory and dehumanizing reference to a Native American woman."

Local indigenous groups have long advocated for the removal of the word from locations within their historical regions, per the Guardian. It was "used to belittle others, mainly women, to dehumanize them so that it was OK for them in the eyes of the Americans to be abused, murdered, raped and turned into slaves" and "somehow along the way just became accepted," Washoe Tribe Chairman Serrell Smokey tells the New York Times. "Of course the tribe pushed them for many years. But the fact that they were willing to do the right thing and get rid of this very hurtful word that was in the name of their resort was just really bold."

The name "did not stand for who we are or what we represent. And we could not in good conscience continue to use it," says the resort, which is owned by Alterra Mountain Co., per the Sacramento Bee. "This is a big, big statement we're making in our industry," adds Dee Byrne, its president and chief operating officer. "And we hope that other businesses will follow suit." The new name, a nod to the region's towering granite cliffs, honors the resort's history as a home to "freeskiing pioneers, Winter Olympians and cultural icons across more than seven decades of ski history," the resort says, per the Times. (Lake Tahoe got its name from the Washoe.)

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