A Lake Tahoe ski resort has changed its name to remove a 'derogatory and offensive' slur referring to Native American women

·2-min read
A Lake Tahoe ski resort has changed its name to remove a 'derogatory and offensive' slur referring to Native American women
Olympic Valley
A California ski resort in Olympic Valley has renamed itself to Palisades Tahoe Resort. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America
  • A California ski resort has rebranded to remove from its old name a slur against Indigenous women.

  • The local Washoe tribe said it has tried for years to have the term removed from names of places in their ancestral lands.

  • More than 1,000 landmarks and locations in the US have been flagged for having offensive names.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

A popular ski resort in California whose name contained a slur for Native American women has changed its name to Palisades Tahoe Resort.

Management decided to drop the previous name, Squaw Valley Ski Resort, in August 2020, and took a year devising the new title, the resort said in a statement on Monday.

"The reasons were clear - the old name was derogatory and offensive. It did not stand for who we are or what we represent," read the statement. "And we could not in good conscience continue to use it."

The resort is located in Olympic Valley, about 200 miles northeast of San Francisco in the Lake Tahoe region. The valley used to be called Squaw Valley, until it hosted the Winter Olympics in 1960, at which point the name was changed.

The term "squaw" is thought in the past to have meant "woman" in the Algonquian language, but over time it has become a misogynistic and racist term referring to Native American women.

Native American tribes have lobbied for years to have the term removed from names of places in their ancestral lands, the local Washoe tribe of Nevada and California said in a statement.

"The word itself is a constant reminder of the unjust treatment of the native people, of the Washoe people," Washoe Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Darrel Cruz said in the statement. "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."

Tribal Chairman Serrell Smokey called the name change a "positive step forward" and said the Washoe people were appreciative of the decision.

The announcement comes amid a national reckoning about racism in the US, after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 sparked widespread protests against white supremacy. In July, congressional Democrats filed a bill to rename more than 1,000 places with names that included offensive terms and racist slurs.

One such location is Patrick's Point State Park in Trinidad, California, which is considering changing its name to "Sue-meg State Park," after the local Yurok tribe's village. A statement from the park said that Patrick Beegan, the park's namesake, was a homesteader accused of taking the land in the mid-1800s and murdering numerous Native Americans who lived there.

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