The Board of Directors of the well-known Olympic Valley, Calif. property, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, decided a year ago that a new name was needed, because of how derogatory and offensive associations with “squaw” have evolved. The name of the championship Robert Trent Jones Jr. golf course that the resort is associated with is still shown as The Links Golf Course at Squaw Creek, but that will also presumably be changed. The area was originally called Squaw Valley by settlers who saw Native American women working in a meadow after coming upon the region in the 1850s.
A year ago, the Board of Directors of Squaw Valley in Olympic Valley, Calif. decided they needed to change the name of the resort, because of associations with the word “squaw” that were seen as derogatory and offensive, the Reno (Nev.) Gazette Journal reported.
That new name has now been announced, the Gazette Journal reported, and the property is now known as Palisades Tahoe.
The resort, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, is primarily known for skiing and snowboarding, but also promotes a variety of other amenities and activities, including The Links Golf Course at Squaw Creek, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. championship course that is still shown by that name on the Palisades Tahoe website, but will presumably also be eventually included as part of the renaming process.
Squaw Valley has been under the same ownership as the nearby Alpine Meadows (Calif.) resort, the Gazette Journal reported, and while that property will retain its name, the two resorts, which are connected by a cable car, will now be known collectively as Palisades Tahoe.
The name change shows that the resort can adapt to the modern era, Dee Byrne, President of Palisades Tahoe, said in a news release, the Gazette Journal reported.
“This name change reflects who we are as a resort and community—we have a reputation for being progressive and boundary-breaking when it comes to feats of skiing and snowboarding,” Byrne said in a news release. “We have proven that those values go beyond the snow for us.”
The name “Squaw Valley” was a reminder of unjust treatment of Native Americans, according to Darrel Cruz, an historic preservation officer with the Washoe tribe, the Gazette Journal reported.
“We have been in the area for thousands of years [and] Olympic Valley is within the ancestral homeland of the Washoe people,” Cruz said. “It’s 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.”
The resort’s new Palisades Tahoe logo (shown above) is meant to include a representation of the history of Olympic Valley and the Washoe tribe, according to an explanation on the resort’s website, the Gazette Journal reported. “The eagle is a legendary symbol of freedom that keeps watch over our valleys,” the explanation says.
“We added our two mountains in a way that can also be read as eagle feathers or the waters of Lake Tahoe,” it adds. “The shapes reference the flat land and cliffs of the Palisades, while the wavelike forms exude the distinct vibes of California culture.”
In announcing the change, the resort’s Board of Directors noted that there have been many similar efforts across the country to replace the name “Squaw Valley,” the Gazette Journal reported.
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, the Gazette Journal reported.
When settlers arrived in the 1850s in the area where the resorts set in the Sierra Nevada mountains are now located, they first saw only Native American women working in a meadow, the Gazette Journal reported, and the land near Lake Tahoe was believed to have been given the name Squaw Valley by those early settlers.