California’s Squaw Valley, one of the world’s best-known resorts and the host of the 1960 Winter Olympics, is in the process of deciding its new name.
The word “squaw” has been deemed a derogatory term for some time but the increasing prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement led the resort to announce last season it would definitely be changing its name ahead of the coming season start in November.
The latest development is the launch of a competition by the resort to find a new name for the Squaw Creek Chairlift. Submissions are invited from the resort’s fans for a new name, with the closing date for entries August 15th.
“When it comes to these mountains, our community of skiers and riders is overflowing with passionate ideas and opinions. Lots and lots of opinions. And we love that about you,” a resort statement reads.
Among the resort’s advice to those submitting new name suggestions are, “Keep it short: chairlift names are usually three words or less,” and “Keep it classy: we appreciate humour, but please refrain from any submissions that are offensive or inappropriate.”
The plan is for resort staff to choose a short list from the names submitted then run a public vote to decide the winner from August 20th to 25th.
“This is just one piece of the greater and very important process of removing the word “Squaw” from the resort name. …stay tuned for an announcement about the new overall resort name in early Fall,” the statement concludes.
The resort currently called Squaw Valley has also been involved in a long campaign to create a gondola link to nearby Alpine Meadows ski area, both owned by the Alterra Group, one of the two biggest multi-ski-resort operators in the US. The two will not be connected by ski slopes but their combined areas will be one of the largest in North America. They are already being jointly promoted and named ‘Squaw Alpine’ so it remains to be seen if the new name is just focussed on renaming Squaw Valley or encompasses the two resorts combined.
There has been controversy over the decades too over a less well-known ski area with Squaw in its name on the opposite US coast over in Maine. Big Squaw Mountain Resort near Greenville opened a few years after Squaw Valley, in 1963. The mountain it is located on was formerly ‘Big Squaw Mountain’ but it was renamed ‘Big Moose Mountain’ in 2000. The ski area has only operated on a limited basis over the past few decades thanks to the efforts of a local community group non-profit group. There has been a wish to rename Big Squaw too, with a fresh petition launched by a group of women in the region last autumn, but this has been resisted by the absentee owner of the ski area. The latest development at the start of this year is a $135m government bond being issues to redevelop the site into a new four-season resort, buying out the former owner, and creating a resort with a new name here too.