Winter Park Resort, CO, has this season changed the potentially derogatory name of one of its oldest chairlifts. The Eskimo Express, installed in the early 1960s, will henceforth be known as the Explorer Express.
Last year, the resort looked over all their runs and lifts to determine if any of them were offensive (shame they didn’t have a crystal ball, as I’m sure with hindsight they’d also have changed ‘Corona Way’). It was deemed that ‘Eskimo’ was a ‘derogatory and offensive term that connoted barbarism and violence.’
Last summer, we examined the names of our trails and lifts, and recognized that the name “Eskimo” is considered derogatory and offensive by many. Through research we learned people in many parts of the Arctic consider Eskimo a derogatory term because it was widely used by racist, non-native colonizers. Many people also thought it meant eater of raw meat, which connoted barbarism and violence. Brands with longer histories than Winter Park’s have also decided to abandon the term. The iconic Eskimo Pie dropped the name in 2020, and the Edmonton Canadian football team announced it would no longer use the name as well.
Winter Park is a place for all people to Venture Out, to escape and retreat, to transform and trailblaze. Winter Park is an inclusive place and that’s why we moved to change the name of the Eskimo Express Lift to the Explorer Express Lift. The name “Explorer” more accurately represents our resort, our brand, our team, and our guests.
– Jen Miller, communication manager
The Eskimo Express was named in honor of the Eskimo Ski Club, an organization that provided Denver-Metro area children a supervised opportunity to ski and experience the mountains. The organization had been visiting Winter Park since 1939, until 2018 when the resort took over their HQ in Balcony House for employee lockers.
The 12-minute ride ‘Eski-Slow’ was replaced in 1990 with a high-speed quad that took just over 4-minutes.
The 20/21 trail map is up to date with the new name. Other names considered were Trailblazer, Wanderer, and Endurance.
Winter Park is the second Alterra-owned resort that has committed to changing a potentially derogatory name. Squaw Valley in California has decided to remove ‘Squaw’ from its name by next season.
NPR explains why the name might be considered derogatory:
People in many parts of the Arctic consider Eskimo a derogatory term because it was widely used by racist, non-native colonizers. Many people also thought it meant eater of raw meat, which connoted barbarism and violence. Although the word’s exact etymology is unclear, mid-century anthropologists suggested that the word came from the Latin word excommunicati, meaning the excommunicated ones, because the native people of the Canadian Arctic were not Christian.
But now there’s a new theory. According to the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, linguists believe the word Eskimo actually came from the French word esquimaux, meaning one who nets snowshoes. Netting snowshoes is the highly-precise way that Arctic peoples built winter footwear by tightly weaving, or netting, sinew from caribou or other animals across a wooden frame.
But the correction to the etymological record came too late to rehabilitate the word Eskimo. The word’s racist history means most people in Canada and Greenland still prefer other terms. The most widespread is Inuit, which means simply, “people.” The singular, which means “person,” is Inuk.