Squaw Valley Resort has a monumental task of coming up with a new name, following their announcement that they would change it to remove the “racial and sexist” word “squaw.” The historic resort was home to the 1960 Olympics and is now one of the most world-renown ski destinations in the country. This new name will be heard far and wide, so it has to resonate widely.
While many people are yelling to the mountaintops that the resort’s management is simply ceding to the “cancel culture” crowd, it’s the right move. This name would have been a source of conflict within the resort until it was removed, and for management, it’s best to just remove the issue earlier rather than later.
So what name should replace the iconic moniker of “Squaw Valley?” Let’s remember that marketing is everything, and this word will be uttered throughout the world for decades to come. It’s got tot be simple, easy to understand, easy to say and providing some context to the North Lake Tahoe area. Should it be historic? Should it rely mostly on meaning, or be considered mostly for its marketing purposes?
I asked this questions on Reddit, which got some interesting responses to the question “What should be the new name for Squaw Valley?” Here are the responses and my thoughts behind them:
This name probably makes the most sense and was the most recommended name from the Reddit users. The resort’s history is deeply engrained in the 1960 Winter Olympics to which it was the host. Today, the five Olympic circles are seen throughout the resort and the history of the games are prevalent throughout the area.
Granite Chief Resort
The ski resort resides adjacent to the Granite Chief Wilderness, with Granite Chief peak at the most northwest corner of the resort. The name is renowned to locals, with multiple businesses adopting it in Truckee and Tahoe City. The Granite Chief Wilderness is also a popular area to hike in the summer and matching that name with its winter counterpart would be more than fitting.
In the spring of 2017, Squaw Valley made the groundbreaking announcement that it had purchased the neighboring Alpine Meadows ski resort, with plans to connect the two with a massive gondola. Today, the two resorts sit separately, just a short drive away on Highway 89. In years to come, the resorts will become connected and the ownership group may choose to create one massive resort.
Combining the names Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley could become a clean Alpine Valley. But who knows, they may want to continue to collect separate ticket fees for each resort in the near future.
McConkey’s Gnar Valley
This one is a long shot, but anybody who has local roots in the area has a fond memory of Shane McConkey. Some want that reflected in the name of his favorite mountain.
McConkey was a professional skier and BASE jumper whose shenanigans became that of legend in the Squaw Valley area. His father was a skiing revolutionary, and Shane brought that legend to the North Tahoe area. After his tragic death while performing a ski-BASE jump in Italy, he has since been celebrated heavily in the region.
This name would particularly call the extreme skiers in the region, but may not be broad enough for the resort’s overall values.
Let the Washoe Tribe Rename It
As the public wonders what the new name will be, an online petition is urging the resort to let the Washoe Tribe head the change.
“The local ski resort, “Squaw”, is stolen land from the Washoe tribe and the name is a derogatory term towards Indigenous women,” read the petition. “In the amount of time I have spent working with the Washoe women I have learned how offensive and violent this word is which is why I refer to it in quotes. The Washoe tribe is standing up to change the name of their Sacred land and they should be the ones to rename it. Help amplify their voice and give them the right to rename their own land.”
It’s unknown what the Washoe would name the resort, and if they’re currently being involved in the process. But a decision to allow them to rename one of the most popular ski resorts in the Tahoe region would be a major victory for Native American groups.
So what should the new name be? Take our survey to let us know what you think:
Zach O’Brien is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Active NorCal