August 25, 2020
Tahoe’s Iconic Squaw Valley Will Change Name, Removing Racist Slur
This morning, California’s Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows Resort, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, announced it will have a new name in 2021.
“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, president and COO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows in a statement. “While we love our local history and the memories we all associate with this place as it has been named for so long, we are confronted with the overwhelming evidence that the term ‘squaw’ is considered offensive.”
The Squaw Valley ski resort was founded in 1949 and named for the valley in which it sits. That name, however, was formally changed to Olympic Valley in 1960. The resort’s name, however, remained unchanged.
The Washoe Tribe, as well as other tribes indigenous to the area, has been in consultation with the resort over a name change for years.
“It’s almost like a wound being healed once they remove that name,” said Darrel Cruz, director of historic preservation for the Washoe Tribe.
“As much as we cherish the memories we associate with our resort name, we must accept that these emotional attachments do not justify our continuing use of a word that is widely accepted to be a racist and sexist slur,” Cohen said. “We will find a new name that reflects our core values, storied past, and respect for all those who have enjoyed this land.”
Squaw is derived from the Algonquin language, spoken by tribes in eastern North America. It likely simply meant “woman,” at first, but over decades took on a sexist, racist meaning. It’s thought that when white settlers first entered the area now called Squaw Valley, they saw only Indigenous women there, hence the name.
The new name will be announced in 2021, but will not be used until after the winter 2021 season concludes. Several landmarks in the area, including Squaw Peak, are under considering for official name changes as well.