Short Film Explains the Importance of Removing the Word ‘Squaw’ from the Tahoe Basin

We have seen the typical “comment section warrior” nonsense when it comes to the name change surrounding what is now Palisades Tahoe. The iconic ski resort, home of the 1960 Winter Olympics, opted to change its name from Squaw Valley in order to abandon the word “squaw,” which has been deemed a derogatory term for Native American women. Some people may not fully understand this decision, but the above video might help.

The short film Walking With My Sisters outlines the history of the word from the time white settlers began moving into the region, eventually forcing the Washoe Tribe off its historical land. It’s a great video to show the mindset of the Washoe women, along with Palisades Tahoe management, when deciding on the monumental name change.

“Erasing history isn’t what we want to do,” said Palisades Tahoe COO Ron Cohen. “We want to understand history and we want to put it in the right place.”

Cohen tells how they researched the earliest forms of the word and found an article from the 1860’s documenting how a white settler shot a native woman in the head upon arriving in the region. That story shows how the Washoe tribe was treated in that era, and how the word was used in a dangerous and derogatory way.

The film goes on to discuss the importance of the valley to the Washoe and how changing the name can honor the historical inhabitants of the region. If you still have trouble understanding the decision behind the name change, we highly recommend watching the short film.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California

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