Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows changes name to Palisades Tahoe
Iconic California resort drops term deemed derogatory from branding
After more than 70 years of operating with a term deemed derogatory by many Native Americans, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has changed its name to Palisades Tahoe.
The resort announced it would drop the term from its name more than a year ago, and on Monday morning officially announced the change.
“The Washoe people have lived in the area for thousands of years; we have great reverence for our ancestors, history and lands,” said Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California Tribal Chairman Serrell Smokey in a news 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.”
The base area will now be called Olympic Valley, while Alpine Meadows will continue to be the name of the resorts’ other base area. The village on the Olympic Valley side will now be known as The Village at Palisades Tahoe. Plans are also in place to debut new names for the Squaw One and Squaw Creek chairlifts, to be selected with input by the Washoe Tribe, Resort at Squaw Creek, and the public. Other features like Squaw Creek and Squaw Peak require local government approval to be changed. Local tribal leaders are actively working to have those names changed.
“The ‘Squaw’ name wasn’t used by the leaders of the past to cause ill will. I fully believe that based on the history I know of, but times change and we got to the point where internally we said it’s the right time to make this important change,” said Palisades Tahoe President and COO Dee Byrne. “(The term) doesn’t represent who we are. ‘Squaw’ is a hurtful word. We’re not hurtful people. We are respectful, welcoming, and inclusive people. It became pretty straightforward for us.”
Byrne was named president and COO in mid-August, and has worked at the resort since 2011. She will now oversee the removal of the term from several hundred locations throughout the resort and rebranding of an iconic ski location.
“I just want to thank the community for their support in this process,” said Byrne. “They were heavily involved and we wouldn’t be in this place without their support, without their input. We hope that Palisades Tahoe represents what’s the best of them and these unique mountains.”
In seeking a new name, the resort team looked at aspects ranging from the history of the Washoe Tribe, whose ancestral lands were in Olympic Valley, to extreme ski movies that featured the resort. The team then carefully conducted numerous surveys, collecting more than 3,000 responses, according to resort officials, and held focus groups in order to consult with a wide range of individuals in the community, including local residents, longtime pass holders, athletes who grew up skiing and riding the area, employees of the resort, and members of the local Washoe Tribe.
The name is meant to honor both Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows and the granite walls that rise up at each ski area. Officials also unveiled a new logo featuring two mountains and an eagle, which make their homes in the area and is also a nod to a sacred Washoe symbol.
The majority of signs with “squaw” on them will be removed by the start of the ski season, but officials indicated the old logo appears in thousands of locations across the two mountains, and that total removal will take multiple seasons.
For more information, visit http://www.palisadestahoe.com.
Justin Scacco is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of the Tribune.
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