The name Squaw Valley is no longer. The iconic home of the 1960 Winter Olympics has been changed to Palisades Tahoe.
More than a year ago, resort officials announced their intention to drop the derogatory “squaw” from its name. As of Monday, Sept. 13, the Lake Tahoe ski area will be known as Palisades Tahoe.
This change will bring both mountains of the former Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows together under one unified name.
Community members and the local Washoe tribe first voiced concerns in the mid-1980s about the racist slur toward Native American women in the resort’s name. The resort committed to changing its name late last summer in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and amid a sea change of similar efforts.
“This name change reflects who we are as a ski resort and community,” said Palisades Tahoe President and COO Dee Byrne. “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.”
The renaming process involved an in-depth research and discovery process that would be the first step in coming up with a new name. The resort conducted several surveys and collected over 3,000 responses. They also organized focus groups that included various community members to find out what was important in a new name.
Resort officials say the central themes that emerged from the discovery process included the unique geography and terrain, the Olympic and ski culture, and the resort’s ability to challenge all levels of skiers and riders.
Palisades Tahoe is a nod to the ski resort’s reputation as the home of freeskiing. The name was inspired by the towering granite faces that rise above the resort, and reflects the collective decision of the passionate locals who consider the resort their winter home.
Even more specifically, the name derives from a zone on the mountain, a steep and technical area above the Siberia chairlift that’s been filmed in many ski movies over the years.
“Anyone who spends time at these mountains can feel the passion of our dedicated skiers and riders. It’s electric, exciting, reverential, and incredibly motivating,” said Ron Cohen, former president and COO of Palisades Tahoe. “However, no matter how much our guests don’t intend to offend anyone, it is not enough to justify continuing to operate under a name that is deeply offensive to indigenous people across North America. We were compelled to change the name because it’s the right thing to do.”
The resort will begin implementing the new name and branding immediately, but expects the full changeover to 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 debut new names for the Squaw One and Squaw Creek chairlifts, to be selected with input by the Washoe Tribe, Resort at Squaw Creek, and the public.
“This will take some getting used to, but this name change was an important initiative for our company,” Byrne said. “At the end of the day, “squaw” is a hurtful word, and we are not hurtful people. It was a change that needed to be made for us to continue to hold our heads high as a leader in our industry and community.”
For more information, visit www.palisadestahoe.com/new-name.