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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

Squaw Valley ski resort changes ‘racist and sexist’ name, rebrands

The Lake Tahoe resort has renamed itself Palisades Tahoe after its previous moniker was deemed a slur against Indigenous women.

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A longtime ski area will begin the 2021/22 season with what many believe is a long-overdue name change.

The Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows ski area in Olympic Valley, Calif., has been rebranded as Palisades Tahoe, the resort’s owner, Alterra Mountain Co., announced Monday.

Founded in 1949 and home to the 1960 Winter Olympics, Squaw Valley Ski Resort (which combined with Alpine Meadows in 2012) came under fire in recent years due to the insensitivity of its name, leading the ski resort to announce in 2020 that it would find a new moniker that eschewed the word “squaw.”

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Over the past year, the resort said its discussions with the local Washoe Tribe “affirmed the position that [the word] is widely considered a racist and sexist slur against Indigenous women.”

Part of the search for a new name included researching “what elements of these neighboring valleys, from the mountains to the people, truly set them apart,” according to the resort. In addition, the former Squaw Valley team conducted numerous surveys and held focus groups to include the voices of community members, residents, pass holders, the area’s famous athletes, employees, and members of the local Washoe tribe.

The result, the resort believes, is a name and logo that captures the spirit, history, and essence of the ski area—and even makes a nod to late local ski legend Shane McConkey.

Palisades Tahoe said the change honors “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.”

“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,” said Dee Byrne, recently appointed as president and COO of the ski area. “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.”

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Palisades Tahoe said it will begin implementing the new name and branding immediately, though the full change from Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows will 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 announce new names for the Squaw One and Squaw Creek chairlifts. Those new monikers will be selected with input by the Washoe Tribe, Resort at Squaw Creek, and the public.

Beyond the name change, the company said, 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.”