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Debate about Racism: New Name for Squaw Valley Ski Resort

As an editor at Snow-Online I turned my hobby into my profession. Since September 2016 I have been in charge of the content. The mountains have always fascinated me. In winter, you can meet me in the ski areas not only on the downhill slopes, but also on the cross-country trails.

If you have any questions, you can always reach me by e-mail at: andrea.poschinger@tourispo.com

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last update on Aug 31, 2020

New name for one of the most legendary ski resorts in the USA: Squaw Valley will change its name from 2021. The reason for this is the word "squaw", which is considered a derogatory and insulting term for indigenous women and is already banned in several US states. The current debate on racism and long conversations with representatives of the Native Americans have now prompted the ski resort operators of Squaw Valley to make this decision. The name of the Californian ski resort has been known worldwide since the 1960 Winter Olympics.

Home of the Washoe Indians

The ski area is located on Lake Tahoe in California at 2000 meters above sea level.
© Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows The ski area is located on Lake Tahoe in California at 2000 meters above sea level.

The popular ski resort, which is also one of the largest in the USA, is located west of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada and was opened in 1949. At that time the valley had been called Squaw Valley by the white settlers for about 100 years. The Washoe Indians lived in this region when the first emigrants arrived around 1850. According to legend, the new arrivals in the camps initially met only "squaws" and children, as the men were on long hikes in search of food.

While at the beginning the ski resort was only known in the USA, in 1960 the whole world looked at Squaw Valley. After all, the Winter Olympics were hosted there with 8 disciplines and over 660 athletes. “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," said Ron Cohen, president of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows.

The discussion about the name of the ski resort had flared up at the end of May after the death of the African-American George Floyd had triggered a big debate about racism in the USA. Since then, the removal of monuments and name changes have been discussed worldwide. In July, for example, after years of criticism from Native Americans and demands by sponsors, the Washington Redskins football team decided to part with its name "Redskins".

Olympic Valley as a new name?

The new name is to be announced at the end of the 2020/2021 ski season.
© Matt Palmer / Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows The new name is to be announced at the end of the 2020/2021 ski season.

In the next few months a project team will develop a new name for the ski resort Squaw Valley. One possibility is certainly "Olympic Valley", as both the valley and the entry point to the ski area have been called since 1960. At the site of the Olympic Village at 1980 meters above sea level, there are now numerous accommodations and restaurants around the valley stations. Almost 30 lifts and cable cars take winter sports enthusiasts to the more than 170 downhill runs, which reach up to 2700 metres. The ski season runs from mid-November to May.

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As the naming process and all the associated effects take time, ski operations will be started in winter 2020/2021 under the old name. Only at the end of the ski season in spring will the new name and logo be presented.

>> Read more about the ski resort

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