California ski resort changes name over offensive term for Native American women

Support us and go ad-free

California’s popular Squaw Valley Ski Resort will change its name because the word “squaw” is a derogatory term for Native American women, officials have said.

The resort hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics.

The decision was reached after consulting with local Native American groups and extensive research into the etymology and history of the term “squaw”, said Ron Cohen, president and COO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows.

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.

Cohen said: “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.”

Work to find a new name will start immediately and is expected to be announced next year, he 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.

Squaw Valley
The resort hosted the Winter Olympics in 1960 (AP)

The renaming is one of many efforts across the nation to address racial discrimination, colonialism and Indigenous oppression, including the removal of statues of Christopher Columbus, a symbol to many of European colonisation and the death of native people.

A growing number of brands are rethinking their marketing in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.

Last month, the Washington NFL franchise announced it was dropping the “Redskins” name and Indian head logo, bowing to recent pressure from sponsors and decades of criticism that they are offensive to Native Americans.

A new name must still be selected for one of the oldest and most famous teams in the National Football League, and it is unclear how soon that will happen.

In June, Quaker Oats announced that it will retire the Aunt Jemima brand, saying the company recognises the character’s origins are “based on a racial stereotype”.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us