Photo: Chris Allan/Shutterstock

Popular California Ski Resort Changes Its Racist and Sexist Name

by Alex Bresler Sep 13, 2021

After a year-long deliberation, California’s Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows ski resort has officially changed its name to Palisades Tahoe in order to rectify the offensive terminology used in its previous moniker. Derived from the Algonquin language, the word “squaw” originally translated to “woman” but became perverted over the years as a derogatory term used to denigrate Indigenous women, one that the famed ski resort has finally erased from its vocabulary.

The process of adopting a new name, which has also unified the resort’s two mountains, demanded careful consideration. It involved extensive research into the region’s Indigenous history, consultation with the local Washoe Tribe, and a look into the resort’s cultural impact since its establishment in 1949. Numerous surveys yielding over 3,000 replies, and a series of focus groups targeting various members of the local and resort communities, provided invaluable insight into what name would better serve the Olympic Valley mainstay. In the end, Palisades Tahoe was chosen to honor the resort’s legendary granite faces and chutes.

Newly appointed Palisades Tahoe President and COO Dee Byrne acknowledged the necessity of the name change in a press release earlier today. “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,” she said, adding, “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.”

With the name change also comes a new logo. Depicting two of the resort’s iconic peaks and the outline of an eagle, a sacred Washoe symbol and token of the resort’s legacy as freeskiing capital, the new imagery captures the spirit of Palisades Tahoe’s past, present, and future.

These changes go beyond branding. They also represent a commitment to education, one that’s anchored by the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California. In partnership with the tribe, Palisades Tahoe launched a Washoe Cultural Tour series this summer to offer visitors an Indigenous perspective of Olympic Valley from the stewards of their ancestral lands. The resort also plans to display Washoe artifacts at High Camp and is currently working with the tribe’s historic preservation and resources offices to make “skiing more accessible” to its members.

A version of this article was previously published on August 28, 2020, and was updated on September 13, 2021, with more information.

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