One of the most popular ski resorts in Northern California is joining the movement to address its controversial name amidst a nationwide conversation following the killing of George Floyd.
The owners of Squaw Valley Resort in Tahoe have invited a Native American group to come have a discussion on its name, which is considered to be a derogatory term for a Native American woman. The name “squaw” is prominent throughout California, with at least 100 businesses and destinations using it as their namesake. Now, Squaw Valley Resort is attempting to begin a conversation with Native American groups to address the word.
This isn’t the first time that businesses have considered erasing that name from the area. Over a decade ago, the owners of Resort at Squaw Creek had a meeting to discuss changing its name, which included Native American groups. Ultimately, they decided to keep its name.
According to advocacy groups, the term “squaw” is equivalent to the “c-word” for Native American women. The term was used to describe indigenous women during America’s brutal campaign of slavery and slaughter of Native American tribes in the 1700’s and 1800’s. To some, the name represents a legacy of violence against Native Americans.
The word has been successfully erased from other areas of NorCal in the recent decade. In 2011, the California Office of Historic Preservation renamed “Squaw Rock” on Highway 1010 near the Sonoma-Mendocino county line to Frog Woman Rock. In 2018, Sierra Nevada peak “Squaw Ridge” was renamed Hungalelti Ridge in coordination with the nearby Washoe tribe.
The ski resort is far from the only business to use the word in the the north Tahoe area near Truckee dubbed “Squaw Valley.” In fact, most businesses and organizations in the historic Olympic Village use the word, and the ski resort could set off a domino effect of name changes throughout Tahoe if it moves forward with the name change.
A wave of name changes and monument removals have swept through NorCal since the protests of the George Floyd killing. The town of Fort Bragg will have a city council meeting to change its name, which is the namesake of a Confederate general. The city of Folsom is considering renaming the popular Negro Bar State Recreation Area, which was named after a community of African American gold miners in the 1800’s. Statues of Christopher Columbus, Sir Francis Drake and John Sutter have all been removed to address the men’s brutal past of Native American and African American slavery.
Will Squaw Resort have a new name soon?