Ski Resort Changes Name In Bid To Fight Racial Injustice
In a bid to fight racial injustice, a popular Californian ski resort has removed an offensive word from its name.
The resort, located in Lake Tahoe, around 200 miles northeast of San Francisco, and spanning 6,000 acres, announced the decision on Monday, September 13, taking to Twitter to inform followers of the ‘next chapter’ of the resort’s ‘storied history’.
The ski resort’s former name contained a derogatory term for Native American women prompting it to subsequently change its name to Palisades Tahoe. Formerly known as the Squaw Valley Ski Resort, the website explains that while ‘the name is new. The legend continues’.
The word ‘Squaw’ featured in the resort’s original name is derived from the Algonquin language. While at one time it may have just meant ‘woman’, it has evolved over generations to become a term associated with misogyny and racism. According to experts, the word has since been used to belittle Indigenous women.
The change in name follows a series of national efforts which have been made to address a colonial history, according to yahoo!news. Statues of Christopher Columbus have since been removed too, in a bid to combat historically oppressive behaviour against Native Americans and other people of colour.
President and COO of the newly-reformed Palisades Tahoe, Dee Byrne, told yahoo!news how the change of name was ‘the right thing to do’.
‘I think it’s going to make a difference. I think we’re going to be seen as a more welcoming, inclusive resort and community,’ she said.
The resort has apparently been debating the issue for the past year, concluding that the word was offensive to ‘not just to Indigenous women but to all women’, before it decided to commit to the change.
The resort is located in what used to be known as Squaw Valley until the 1960 Winter Olympics was hosted there and the name was subsequently changed to the Olympic Valley.
The resort had also been reportedly asked by tribes in the local region to change its name for decades.
Darrel Cruz, who works for the Washoe Tribe Historic Preservation Office, clarified how the valley is within the ancestral homeland of the people of Washoe and that the word in the resort’s former name was 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,’ he said in a statement.
The tribal council, represented by Washoe Tribal Chairman, Serrell Smokey, expressed there was ‘great appreciation’ for the change of name, which was viewed as a ‘positive step’ forward.
However, he commented that despite there being a ‘lot of progress’, there’s ‘still a lot of work to be done’.
Since the resort’s name change, Smokey hopes the resort can continue to work with the tribe, alongside Place County officials, to rename other public areas and parts of the Olympic Valley that still contain derogatory sayings.
Officials of the resort explained that the concept for the new logo honours the two mountains that are part of the resort. It also features an eagle, which is a symbol of the spiritual world for Native Americans and subsequently pays respect to the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California.
On Twitter, the newly reformed resort stated:
For more than a year, our community has been waiting & wondering what the new name for our mountains would be. Today marks the first day of the next chapter of our resort’s storied history. While the name may be new, the legend of these valleys continue on, now as Palisades Tahoe.
In a bid to educate guests at the resort about tribal culture, the resort has also announced it will be partnering with the Washoe Tribe.
Since the partnership, Palisades Tahoe has launched a series called Washoe Cultural Tour which features a monthly talk by Cruz.
An exhibit on the ‘Washoe way of life’ is also set to be installed at the resort.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk
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