Squaw Valley, CA Announces New Name: Palisades Tahoe

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 Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, CA revealed today its new name will be Palisades Tahoe.

Squaw Valley ski resort in Lake Tahoe, CA committed in summer 2020 to change its name from the word “Squaw” since the word “Squaw” is considered a racial & sexist slur against Native Americans.

“After extensive research into the etymology and history of the term “squaw,” both generally and specifically with respect to Squaw Valley, outreach to Native American groups, including the local Washoe Tribe, and outreach to the local and extended community, company leadership has decided it is time to drop the derogatory and offensive term “squaw” from the destination’s name.”

– Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, CA on 8/25/20

Official Press Release

[Olympic Valley, Calif.] Sept. 13, 2021—Today, Palisades Tahoe introduced its new name and logo that honor the resort’s history as a land of legends—home to freeskiing pioneers, Winter Olympians, and cultural icons across more than seven decades of ski history. Inspired by the sheer granite faces and chutes that compose this otherworldly terrain, the Palisades Tahoe name is a result of the collective experience of a fiercely loyal community, united around a shared place that has fascinated and exhilarated for generations. This change will bring both mountains of the former Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows together under one unified name.

“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. 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.”

– recently appointed Palisades Tahoe President and COO Dee Byrne

The 2020 commitment by the resort to rename the destination was made after extensive research into the historical and current usage and regional history of the word “squaw,” and discussions with the local Washoe Tribe, which affirmed the position that it is widely considered a racist and sexist slur against Indigenous women.

The renaming process began last year with an in-depth research and discovery process that would be the first step in informing the new name. At the outset, the resort team dissected what elements of these neighboring valleys, from the mountains to the people, truly set them apart. They looked at the history of the Washoe Tribe, whose ancestral lands were in Olympic Valley, to extreme ski movies that featured the resort, to the spectrum of feedback on the name change decision. Next, the team carefully conducted numerous surveys—collecting more than 3,000 responses—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 on these slopes, employees of the resort, and members of the local Washoe tribe.

The central themes that emerged from the discovery process included the unique geography and one-of-a-kind terrain of these mountains, the deep Olympic and ski culture histories across both valleys, the resort’s ability to challenge all levels of skiers and riders, and the incredible strength and loyalty of the community. With the name Palisades Tahoe, the resort honors the past—the arena that put Olympic Valley on the map, inspired countless skiers to push the limits, and created a culture unlike any other—and looks towards a new chapter.

“Anyone who spends time at these mountains can feel the passion of our dedicated skiers and riders. It’s electric, exciting, reverential, and incredibly motivating. However, no matter how deep, meaningful, and positive these feelings are and no matter how much our guests don’t intend to offend anyone, it is not enough to justify continuing to operate under a name that is deeply offensive to indigenous people across North America. We were compelled to change the name because it’s the right thing to do, especially for the generations yet to come, who will grow up without having to use a slur to identify the place where they chase their dreams down the mountain. We know how much people love this place, and so we spent more than a year making sure that we were doing right by the community in choosing a name that would honor the past and reach out to the future. I am so grateful to the Palisades Tahoe team for their dedication to writing the next chapter of the resort’s storied history.”

– Ron Cohen, former president and COO of Palisades Tahoe

The Palisades Tahoe name captures and honors two of the resort’s most legendary arenas, one on the Olympic Valley side and one on the Alpine Meadows side, where granite walls rise all around and where generations of freeskiers made their mark. Capturing this spirit of freedom, the new logo aligns the two unique mountains that make up Palisades Tahoe with the outline of a majestic eagle—a nod to the sacred Washoe symbol used to communicate with the heavens, the powerful bird that calls Tahoe home, and to the resort’s freeskiing roots. The bold colors and interwoven design pay homage to these majestic mountains—past, present, and future—and the fierce allegiance and individuality of the Palisades Tahoe community.

Going beyond the name change, Palisades Tahoe has begun building a partnership with the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California to continue to give the tribe a platform to educate the public about their culture and the valleys’ origins as the ancestral land of the Washoe Tribe, and to ensure mountain accessibility for present and future Washoe generations. This summer, the resort launched the Washoe Cultural Tour series, which offers guests a view of the mountains through the eyes of the Washoe people. Darrel Cruz, Director of the Tribal Historic Preservation Office and Cultural Resources Office of the Washoe Tribe, shares stories of Washoe history and culture at the High Camp mid-mountain lodge. In addition, Palisades Tahoe will install a Washoe exhibit at High Camp, complete with tribal artifacts that show the Washoe way of life that members seek to preserve to this day. The groups are also exploring future programming centered on making skiing more accessible to Washoe Tribe members.

The resort will begin implementing the new resort name and branding immediately but expects the full changeover to be a multi-year process. The base area village on the Olympic Valley side will now be known as The Village at Palisades Tahoe, and Palisades Tahoe also plans 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. Palisades Tahoe leaders continue to assist other local businesses who are interested in changing their names, and the Washoe Tribe is leading the efforts to rename Squaw Peak and Squaw Creek. For more information on Palisades Tahoe and the upcoming winter season, please visit our website.

Name Change Stats

Why is it going to take so long for you to change over all the old signage at the resort?

  • Uniform stats
    • More than 32,000 uniform pieces will need to be replaced
    • 10,000 pieces of outerwear
      • Our existing stock will be temporarily patched for this season, new order for next season, we were at the point of replacing a lot of uniforms anyway -we would have replaced 30-40% of our inventory this season even without the name change.
    • 8,300 hats
    • 5, 050 pieces of soft goods
    • 8,800 name tags
  • On-mountain logo locations: nearly 5,000 locations where the logo and/or name will need to be swapped out by our signage team
  • Unique examples:
    • Every “Share the Mountain” sign in the bathroom stalls (~50)
    • The no smoking placards in the funi cars (~50)
    • The logos on every water fountain (~25)
    • The logos on our lodge trash cans (~125)
    • The barcode on every piece of rental equipment has our logo on it, skis, boards, boots, poles, and helmets. Thousands of stickers that will be replaced.
    • Logos on all the employee time clocks (~60)
    • All of the terrain park features (~100)
    • The key cards for hotel rooms
    • The entry carpet in the lobby at the Village
    • Logos on all vehicles, but even down to the hoods of the ski patrol snowmobiles

What are you doing to benefit the Washoe Tribe

  • $1,254 in donations to the Washoe Cultural Fund to date
    • We’ve held two Washoe Tours so far, with another scheduled for next Monday (9/20). For these tours, we offer discounted Tram tickets for attendees, and all ticket sales are donated to the Washoe Cultural Fund. From just those two events we have raised $1,254 for the fund.
  • Our next project is to create programming that makes skiing more accessible for Washoe Tribe members. We are aiming to have programming active for the 2021-22 season.
The Fingers. KT-22. image: snowbrains




Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows Press Release August 2020:

[OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif.] Aug. 25, 2020 – Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows announces today it is making a commitment to change the name of the legendary California mountain destination.

After extensive research into the etymology and history of the term “squaw,” both generally and specifically with respect to Squaw Valley, outreach to Native American groups, including the local Washoe Tribe, and outreach to the local and extended community, company leadership has decided it is time to drop the derogatory and offensive term “squaw” from the destination’s name.

Work to determine a new name is slated to begin immediately and will culminate with an announcement of a new name in 2021. Implementation of the name change will occur after the winter season concludes in 2021.

“With the momentum of recognition and accountability we are seeing around the country, we have reached the conclusion that now is the right time to acknowledge a change needs to happen. 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,” said Ron Cohen, president and COO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. “As much as we cherish the memories we associate with our resort name, we must accept that these emotional attachments do not justify our continuing use of a word that is widely accepted to be a racist and sexist slur. We will find a new name that reflects our core values, storied past, and respect for all those who have enjoyed this land. While the resort name will change, this special place will always be the location of the 1960 Winter Olympics, the home of our beloved KT-22 chairlift, the place where extreme skiing pioneers changed the sport forever, and the treasured mountain home for so many people who revere this amazing ski resort.”

A renaming project team headed by resort leadership will oversee the selection of the new name.

For more information on this decision, as well as the history surrounding the word “squaw,” please visit: https://squawalpine.com/squaw-valley-alpine-meadows-name-change.

Squaw Tree & Headwall. image: snowbrains

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why are you changing the name?

After extensive research into the etymology and history of the term “squaw,” it is undeniable that the word is now widely considered a racist and sexist slur. This is contrary to our company’s core values.

Why is the word “squaw” considered offensive?

We recognize that when the resort was named in 1949, there was no intent whatsoever to be derogatory or offensive—it was just a reference to the name of the valley. Similarly, when our guests and community members say the name today, they are not doing so with an intention to be racist or sexist. However, the reality is the times change, societal norms evolve and we learn things we didn’t previously know. Over the years, more and more has been learned about the word “squaw.” It has been the subject of extensive research and discussion. There is now insurmountable evidence, dating back to the early 1800s, that the word “squaw” has long been used as a derogatory and dehumanizing reference to a Native American woman.

Over recent years, the growing recognition of the full history of the word has resulted in all major dictionaries recognizing it as derogatory and/or offensive. This recognition has in turn kicked off calls for changes of placenames containing “squaw” across North America. In the last 25 years there have been dozens of successful efforts to remove the name “squaw” from locations. In 1995, Minnesota made it illegal to have a “squaw” placename; six more states have followed suit. The U.S. Forest Service in our region has declared the word offensive with respect to Forest Service placenames. Locally, the Washoe Tribe has actively sought name changes, and has previously asked local government for the removal of “squaw” from locations within its ancestral homeland, which includes our resort.

When will the name be changed?

A team will begin work on choosing a new name immediately. We will announce the new name in early 2021, and it will begin to be implemented after the conclusion of the 2020-21 ski season.

What will the new name be? How is that decision being made?

A renaming project team, headed by resort leadership, will oversee the selection of a new name. The team will seek to find a new name that reflects our core values, storied past, and respect for all those who have enjoyed this land.

Will the resort continue to be called “Squaw Valley” until the name is changed, or will there be an interim name?

There will not be an interim name. A great deal of thought and logistical work will go into the name change and it would be counterproductive to do something on a temporary basis given the amount of work that will go into this change.

What about the many local businesses that use “Squaw” in their name? Will they be required to change theirs?

We are not seeking to impose our decision on the many independent businesses and associations that currently use the word in their name. However, we are hopeful that our leadership on the issue convinces others to change too.

Why does the resort think now is the right time to change the name?

The use of the term “squaw” in our resort name has been a topic of discussion for many years, but with the momentum of recognition and accountability we are seeing around the country, it is clear that the time has come for us to fully acknowledge and confront the reality of this word. We are fortunate to have the support and resources of our parent company, Alterra Mountain Company, to undergo the extensive and expensive process of a large-scale renaming of the entire resort. “Squaw Valley” is emblazoned all over our resort, from our uniforms and name tags, to signage, vehicles and even pint glasses. Changing our name is in no way the “easy way out,” but it is undoubtedly the right thing to do.

Won’t changing the name erase the history and legacy of the resort?

We have to accept that as much as we cherish the memories we associate with our resort name, that love does not justify continuing to use a term that is widely accepted to be a racist and sexist slur. While the resort name will change, this special place will always be the location of the 1960 Winter Olympics, the home of our beloved KT-22 chair lift, the place where extreme skiing pioneers changed the sport forever and the treasured mountain home for so many people who revere this amazing ski resort.

Nate Kushlan in deep on Granite Chief at Squaw Valley, CA on May 21st, 2019. image: snowbrains

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5 thoughts on “Squaw Valley, CA Announces New Name: Palisades Tahoe

  1. Can actually blame all that on Alexandra Cushing, daughter of late owner and co-founder Alex Cushing who filed a lawsuit against former corporation Squaw Valley Ski Corp as a inherited longtime boardmember.
    So as a result CEO Nancy Wendt Cushings wife had to sell Squaw to avoid a large expense of legal fees and possible settlement fees during the time of the great recession and lack of profitability, so go figure.
    Squaw was and always will be one of the most amazing ski areas with amazing terrain and views no matter what it’s called now, racial slur or not.

  2. Search Engine Optimiation? Cmon peeps
    Maybe been better for Ikon Jerry’s doing an online seach say if name was one of the first letters of the alphabet maybe something like Alterra Valley
    Oh well bigger things in the world these days like drought, global warming, climate change etc.
    And way to go Sierra Watch on Keeping it true, overdevelopment more carbon emissions and lack of preservation to that once native american land, so village project denied.

  3. When KSL took over Squaw and Alpine meadows both resorts lost their soul , the slow death of unique family owned resorts started and now political correctness is the norm. oops ! did I offend you ? Sorry but it’s all Backcountry skiing now , can’t afford a snowcat ? Good ! stick to the overcrowded runs , paid parking and Jerry’s .
    Or you could actually get better at skiing and stop forcing ski resorts to bend to will with your threat of lawsuits if they don’t put safety bars on every chairlift. Grow a pair and don’t fall off . Improve your skills and stop demanding that the resorts groom everything to green . It required skill and stamina to ski all day, now they carry your skis to the hill and help you click in to your bindings.

  4. it’s not one place, or one resort you morons. seriously, who is running this joke of a business called alterra?
    oh yeah that’s right, real estate developers, instead of real mountain folks that actually care about the resort.
    just wait til they groom the whole mtn and make everything a green, in the name of “development”…… SMH

    ~ VIVA Alpine Meadows!

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