September 24 2021 03:30 pm

Tahoe resort reveals new name after dropping derogatory term

California

TAHOE CITY, Calif. (KTXL) — The popular Lake Tahoe resort formerly known as Squaw Valley Ski Resort revealed its new name Monday, honoring “the resort’s history as a land of legends.”

The resort will now be known as Palisades Tahoe, resort officials said. Along with the name comes a new logo that “aligns the two unique mountains that makeup Palisades Tahoe with the outline of a majestic eagle.”

The resort began working on the name change in summer 2020 amid a national reckoning over racial injustice and inequality.

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. We have proven that those values go beyond the snow for us. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be part of Palisades Tahoe and after more than 10 years at the resort, I’m honored to be leading our team into this new era. 

Dee Byrne, Palisades Tahoe President and COO

Resort officials said implementing the new name and branding has already begun, but they expect the full change to be a multi-year process.

The word “squaw,” derived from the Algonquin language, may have once simply meant “woman,” but over generations, the word morphed into a misogynist and racist term to disparage Indigenous women, said Vanessa Esquivido, a professor of American Indian Studies at California State University, Chico told the Associated Press in July 2020.

“That word is an epithet and a slur. It’s been a slur for a very long time,” said Esquivido.

When settlers arrived in the 1850s in the area where the Sierra Nevada mountain resort is now located, they first saw only Native American women working in a meadow. The land near Lake Tahoe was believed to have been given the name Squaw Valley by those early settlers.

But now the term is considered derogatory and even the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word as an offensive term for a Native American woman.

“This ‘s’ word is a disparaging derogatory term. It’s literally in the dictionary, you can look it up. So if this is news to you, welcome,” said Caitlin Keliiaa, an assistant professor of feminist studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz and a member of the Washoe Tribe.

… No matter how deep, meaningful, and positive these feelings are and no matter how much our guests don’t intend to offend anyone, it is not enough to justify continuing to operate under a name that is deeply offensive to indigenous people across North America. We were compelled to change the name because it’s the right thing to do, especially for the generations yet to come, who will grow up without having to use a slur to identify the place where they chase their dreams down the mountain. We know how much people love this place, and so we spent more than a year making sure that we were doing right by the community in choosing a name that would honor the past and reach out to the future. I am so grateful to the Palisades Tahoe team for their dedication to writing the next chapter of the resort’s storied history.

Ron Cohen,  former president and COO of Palisades Tahoe

Palisades Tahoe said it has begun building a partnership with the Washoe Tribe, allowing them to educate the public on its culture and ancestral land. The tribe is also leading the efforts to rename Sqauw Peak and Squaw Creek.

Click or tap here to learn more about Palisades Tahoe.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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