Suicide Six Ski Area, VT, Changes “Insensitive” Name to Saskadena Six Ski Area

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Yesterday, the Saskadena Six Ski Area introduced a new name and logo, retiring the “Suicide Six” name from the historic ski resort in South Pomfret, VT, owned and operated by the Woodstock Inn & Resort. Honoring the ancestral land of the indigenous western Abenaki people, the word “saskadena” means “standing mountain,” symbolizing a deep connection to the original inhabitants, the land, and the nearly 90-year legacy of this community treasure.

“The time has come to change the name of our historic ski area to better reflect its rich tradition of family fun. We embrace the need for the increasing awareness of mental health and share the growing concern about the insensitivity of the word and the strong feelings it evokes on those in our community who have been touched by the tragedy of suicide. Much time, care, and thought has been invested in the process to choose a name more representative of our values, one that celebrates its 86-year history, honors the Abenaki tradition, and will welcome future generations. While the name might be changing, the experiences offered on this beloved mountain are not.”

– Courtney Lowe, president of the Woodstock Inn & Resort

Approaching the name change with consideration and respect for its historic roots, the process began in 2021 with outreach to members of the community to participate in a focus group. All understood the need for a name change and the discussion centered around the goal to meaningfully uphold the mountain’s legacy.

“We are proud to be Saskadena Six, The Standing Mountain. Our name has changed, the mountain you love hasn’t.”

– Resort Statement

The resort team explored a number of options in the research and discovery phase of the naming process. One line of exploration culminated in a working partnership with Chief Don Stevens of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk-Abenaki Nation to lend his counsel and insights on the land, its heritage, and current use. Said Lowe, “We are deeply grateful to Chief Stevens for his invaluable counsel and partnership throughout the naming process.”

“As a place-based people, the Nulhegan Abenaki tribe appreciates the opportunity to work with the Woodstock resort team to rename this place and recognize its historic context as part of the land. This ‘standing mountain’ has been used by thousands of Abenaki ancestors for over 11,000 years and hopefully many more in the future. By acknowledging the original language of this place, the name Saskadena Six will honor the ancient legacy of the Abenaki alongside that of the generations who have loved it over the past 90 years and into the future. This is more than renaming this place, this is recognizing the original stewardship of this land and providing cultural education to those who visit this standing mountain. I truly value the partnership that connects our past, present, and future stewardship in protecting this special place.”

– Chief Stevens

Why “Saskadena”

In the Abenaki language, “saskadena” (sahs-kah-deena) means “standing mountain.” It was chosen by the resort team to honor the original inhabitants of the land and the mountain’s multi-generational legacy and values of community, inclusion, adventure, discovery, and fun. The name sends a powerful message of connection both to the deeper history of the mountain with the Abenaki nation and to the present-day community at large.

suicide six, saskadena six, vermont
New name, new logo. Credit: Resort Facebook

The new logo positions Saskadena Six in the present while also honoring its nine-decade heritage. The historic “6” red ball, first introduced in the early 1960s, retains a visual connection to the past and is paired with a contemporary typeface with curves that speak to the friendliness and playfulness of the resort. The color palette in shades of yellow, red, and blue draws its inspiration from the Vermont landscape, grounding the Saskadena Six logo in its natural surroundings.

The resort team tapped creative agency Origin Outside to develop the new name and logo as well as the new Saskadena Six campaign assets. An outdoor-focused, digitally driven creative, content, and marketing agency, Origin has offices in Burlington, VT, and in Montreal and Whistler, Canada.

The Saskadena Six name and logo will change immediately, but the resort team anticipates a slightly longer runway for a complete changeover. Said Lowe, “The loyalty and passion the community has for ‘S6,’ as we call it, is a blessing that will endure for generations to come.”

He added that the evolution of the ski resort’s name aligns with the mission of the Woodstock Foundation, a public charity and owner of the Woodstock Inn & Resort. Both the Foundation and the Resort were developed by Laurance and Mary Rockefeller and reflect the Rockefellers’ commitment to community, economic sustainability, and respect for the Vermont landscape.

Saskadena Six Ski Area History

Recognized as one of the oldest ski areas in the country, Saskadena Six has a storied past that lays claim to a number of ski industry firsts. America’s first rope tow, introduced on nearby Gilbert’s Farm in 1934, evolved into the opening of Suicide Six in 1936. It is home to the longest running ski race in North America, The Fisk Trophy Race, which started in 1937 and continues today. S6 is also credited with one of the longest-running ski school programs that began shortly after it opened and with starting the first youth racing program in the United States in 1956 called the Woodstock Ski Runners, both of which are active today. It was also the location of the first National Snow Surfing Championships in 1982, or “snurfing,” considered the beginning of snowboarding. Laurance Rockefeller bought the ski resort in 1961 from original owner Wallace “Bunny” Bertram, and it became part of the Woodstock Foundation, which includes the Woodstock Inn & Resort and Billings Farm & Museum.

One of Vermont’s leading family-friendly ski resorts, Saskadena Six features more than 100 acres of skiing on 24 trails served by three lifts with terrain suitable for all abilities. In the summer and fall, the mountain’s biking and hiking trails are open to the public and free to use.

Visitors can find seasonal activity information and prices, along with the history of Saskadena Six at www.saskadenasix.com. Information on winter ski passes, which go on sale August 1, 2022, can be found on the website.

Saskadena Six trail map.

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