Officials Say Squaw Valley Name is Offensive, Will Change Next Year
Acknowledging the word “squaw” is a derogatory term for Native American women, officials say the name of a popular California ski area will change next year.
Work to find a new name for the Squaw Valley Ski Resort will start immediately, said Ron Cohen, the resort’s president and COO.
The decision was reached after consulting with local Native American groups and extensive research into the etymology and history of the term “squaw,” said Cohen.
The word “squaw,” derived from the Algonquin language, may have once simply meant “woman,” but over generations, the word morphed into a misogynist and racist term to disparage indigenous women.
“While we love our local history and the memories we all associate with this place as it has been named for so long, we are confronted with the overwhelming evidence that the term ‘squaw’ is considered offensive,” Cohen said.
When settlers arrived in the 1850s in the area where the Sierra Nevada resort is now located, they first saw only Native American women working in a meadow. The land near Lake Tahoe was believed to have been given the name Squaw Valley by those early settlers.
Regional California tribes have asked for the name of the resort to be changed numerous times over the years, with little success.
The renaming is one of many efforts across the nation to address colonialism and indigenous oppression, including the removal of statues of Christopher Columbus, a symbol to many of European colonization and the death of native people.