What’s in a name? If we’re talking about the Washington Redskins, the answer is simple—bias and overtly racist thinking are in the name. Same with Squaw Valley, the famous resort near Lake Tahoe. So, Squaw Valley is no more.
Palisades Tahoe is the new name.
High Country News spoke to Darrel Cruz, director of the Tribal Historic Preservation Office at the Washoe Tribe about the name change and the process that led to the decision.
This whole thing, it’s decent. It’s a decent thing to do. Those other terms, like sq—, those are terms and words and behavior from the past. We’ve moved beyond that. If they want to truly call themselves a civilized society, they would remove the sort of things that are barriers to the Native population.
…The resort itself, it’s going to cost them probably millions of dollars to make this change. That’s why I do everything I can to meet them halfway and do whatever I can. I’ve been conducting presentations once a month there at the resort, talking about the Washoe people. And there’s a pretty good turnout every time so far.
According to Outside, in the 1990s, members of the American Indian Movement first pushed the resort to go by a new name. This was prompted in part by a Minnesota law, passed in 1995, that resulted in the modification of 19 geographic titles in the state that contained “squaw.”
Today, forty miles west of Denver, Squaw Mountain, and Squaw Pass are in the process of being renamed. Utah has over 50 sites that contain the word “squaw,” and a bill passed in February will make it less cumbersome for the Utah Committee on Geographic Names to rename some of them.
“People say, ‘It’s just a name. Get over it.’ But a name is also about a place’s history, the history of the land, the culture. It’s about who is welcomed there and who is not welcomed,” says climber and web developer Melissa Utomo.