Amid widespread anti-racist sentiment sweeping the nation, and accompanying criticism that has arisen surrounding the names of places and institutions that call up a legacy of prejudice against minorities, the Squaw Valley resort near California’s Lake Tahoe is dropping “Squaw” from its title.© iStock / Getty Images Plus/SpVVK Lake Tahoe in winter
In a statement emailed to the Sacramento Bee today, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows President Ron Cohen wrote: “The concerns about our name have been long discussed, but as we all find ourselves in a time of increased awareness and righteous demands for accountability, our leadership team has concluded we must move from discussion to action.”
“After extensive historical research, consultation with Native Americans (including the Washoe tribe, who are landowners in our community), and outreach to our local and wider community, our leadership has made the firm decision that it is time for our resort to move away from having our identity represented by a term that is deeply rooted in an offensive, demeaning and often violent history,” Cohen asserted.
This year’s large-scale protests, sparked by new of unlawful killings perpetrated by police against people of color, has also given rise to nationwide movements calling for the removal of statues and monuments honoring historically racist leaders, as well as the renaming of locations and establishments whose titles incorporate ethnic slurs or other derogatory terms.
“The simple fact is that the word ‘squaw’ is now widely accepted as a racial and sexist slur towards indigenous women, and we can no longer ignore the pain caused by perpetuating the use of this term, regardless of intent,” Cohen wrote.
Squaw Valley, located along the north end of Lake Tahoe, along with sister resort Alpine Meadows, is owned by the Alterra Mountain Company—a collection of a dozen prestigious mountain resorts across North America, including Southern California’s iconic Big Bear and Mammoth Mountain.
Christine Horvath, a Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows spokesperson, told the Sacramento Bee that the Resort at Squaw Creek had held a summit for stakeholders over a decade back, in which the implications of using the term ‘Squaw’ were discussed, but that the name was not altered at that time.
While the name is now officially on its way out and, according to the Squaw Valley website, “Work to determine a new name will begin immediately,” its replacement epithet won’t be announced until early 2021, and its implementation across all of the resort’s branding materials and communications won’t occur until after the 2021 winter season has concluded. Cohen wrote in today’s email that the property just “can’t feasibly implement” such a sweeping change in its identity before then.