Squaw Valley to change its name

27th August 2020, by Abi Butcher

Squaw Valley ski resort will drop “derogatory and offensive term ‘squaw’” from its name

Squaw Valley ski resort will drop “derogatory and offensive term ‘squaw’” from its name

The ski resort of Squaw Valley in California has announced it is to drop the “derogatory and offensive term ‘squaw’” from its name.

Squaw Valley was named in 1949, but since that time changes have been made in many states across North America to remove “squaw” from placenames. Modern use of the word — which is a term for a native North American woman or wife — is now recognised as derogatory and both a racial and sexual slur and described as such in all major dictionaries.

Alterra Moutain Company owns Squaw Valley along with 14 other ski destinations including Steamboat and Winter Park in Colorado, Deer Valley in Utah and CMH Heli-Skiing in British Columbia. The company said the decision to change the name had been taken after extensive research into the origin of the word “squaw”, both generally and specifically with respect to the ski resort.

Since 1995 it has been against the law to use the word “squaw” in placenames, and since then six other states have followed suit. In California, Washoe Tribe local to Squaw Valley has been actively asking the government to remove the word “squaw” from locations within its ancestral homeland.

In a statement released yesterday, the resort’s president and COO Ron Conen said: “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. 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.

“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.”

Work is beginning immediately on finding a new name for the ski resort, which will be announced in 2021. The change will be implemented after the winter season ends next spring but no interim name will be used before then. The resort says it hopes local businesses who also use the name Squaw Valley will follow suit and change their names, but that it will and can not force them to do so.

Back to news

Recent news

Share |