The Squaw Valley resort acknowledged more than a year ago that its name “was derogatory and offensive. It did not stand for who we are or what we represent. And we could not in good conscience continue to use it.” So the resort began the renaming process, and today, they announced the new name – Palisades Tahoe.
Indigenous communities across the country have been working for years to remove the word “squaw” from product and place names, to include the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California. Palisades Tahoe is on their ancestral lands. The tribe commends resort management and others who contributed to the decision to change the name.
“The Washoe People have lived in the area for thousands of years; we have great reverence for our ancestors, history and lands,” observed Tribal Chairman Serrell Smokey in a press release. “We are very pleased with this decision; today is a day that many have worked towards for decades. The Washoe Tribal Council recognizes the significance of the name change and on behalf of the Washoe people expresses its great appreciation for this positive step forward.”
According to the tribe, Washoe Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Darrel Cruz, along with past and present Tribal leaders, have developed a relationship with resort management “on various activities mutual to both parties and will continue to work with the Resort as well as Placer County to rename other public places and features in Olympic Valley. Lake Tahoe and its surrounding area including Olympic Valley are the aboriginal homelands of the Washoe Tribe, and the Tribe currently owns real estate in Olympic Valley.”
Palisades Tahoe COO Dee Byrne expressed pride in the new name and the process behind the change.
“It is inspiring that after seven decades in operation, a company as storied and established as this resort can still reflect and adjust when it is the necessary and right thing to do,” Byrne said in a press release. “This name change reflects who we are as a ski resort and community—we have a reputation for being progressive and boundary-breaking when it comes to feats of skiing and snowboarding. We have proven that those values go beyond the snow for us. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be part of Palisades Tahoe and after more than 10 years at the resort, I’m honored to be leading our team into this new era.”
Darrel Cruz, marked the name change as meaningful progress in righting past wrongs.
“We have been in the area for thousands of years. Olympic Valley is within the ancestral homeland of the Washoe people,” Cruz said. “The word itself is a constant reminder of the unjust treatment of the native people, of the Washoe people. 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.”
Top photo caption and credit: Palisades Tahoe – photo: Rennett Stowe, licensed under CC BY 2.0