Meet Palisades Tahoe. The popular California ski resort formerly known as Squaw Valley Ski Resort has ditched its name, which included a derogatory term for Native American women. Resort officials arrived at the new moniker after a year of searching amid a worldwide reckoning over racial injustice.
The 72-year-old resort has a storied legacy in American skiing as a host site of the 1960s Winter Olympics. It is the largest and most challenging skiing complex in the Lake Tahoe area, with 3,600 skiable acres across six Sierra Nevada peaks.
Joining a larger movement that propelled the Cleveland Indians to become the Cleveland Guardians and the Washington Redskins to become the Washington Football Team, Palisades Tahoe’s renaming addresses a history of colonialism and oppression against Native Americans and other people of color.
“More than one year ago, we came to the conclusion that it was time to change our name,” according to a statement on the resort’s website. “The reasons were clear—the old name was derogatory and offensive.” After speaking extensively to the local community, “we dug hard and deep to find a name and identity that would do justice to this place and its legacy.”
Indigenous North Americans consider the word “squaw” to be both misogynistic and racist, according to experts. The word, derived from the Algonquin language, was used by white settlers as an approximation for “woman.” But over generations, the term has evolved into a misogynist, disparaging term used toward Indigenous women.
“The word itself is a constant reminder of the unjust treatment of the native people, of the Washoe people,” said Darrel Cruz, Washoe Tribe Historic Preservation Office. “It’s a constant reminder of those time periods when it was not good for us. It’s a term that was inflicted upon us by somebody else and we don’t agree with it.”
“It was the right thing to do and I think it’s going to make a difference,” said Palisades Tahoe President and COO Dee Byrne. “I think we’re going to be seen as a more welcoming, inclusive resort and community”
“This name change reflects who we are as a ski resort and community—we have a reputation for being progressive and boundary-breaking when it comes to feats of skiing and snowboarding,” said Byrne. “We have proven that those values go beyond the snow for us.”
In the end, the name change was inevitable. “It did not stand for who we are or what we represent,” said the statement. “And we could not in good conscience continue to use it.”