The name is new. The legend continues.
Welcome to Palisades Tahoe.
More than one year ago, we came to the conclusion that it was time to change our name. The reasons were clear—the old name was derogatory and offensive. It did not stand for who we are or what we represent. And we could not in good conscience continue to use it. So we began a long and difficult process.
We spoke extensively to the local community, heavily researched local history, and went through countless rounds of creative exploration. We dug hard and deep to find a name and identity that would do justice to this place and its legacy.
No matter how far we pushed, we kept coming back to something close to our hearts. A place that has helped define not only our mountain and the people who call it home, but the sport itself.
We are very proud of our resort’s new name. It encompasses both of our mountains, captures the individuality of our people, and welcomes all guests to take part in our new chapter.
"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. 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.” - Palisades Tahoe President and COO Dee Byrne.rich-text
"We have been in the area for thousands of years. Olympic Valley is within the ancestral homeland of the Washoe people. The word itself is a constant reminder of the unjust treatment of the native people, of the Washoe people. It’s a constant reminder of those time periods when it was not good for us. It’s a term that was inflicted upon us by somebody else and we don’t agree with it.” - Darrel Cruz, Washoe Tribe Historic Preservation Officerich-text
Vital to both the history of Olympic Valley and the Washoe people, the Eagle is a legendary symbol of freedom that keeps watch over our valleys.
We added our two mountains in a way that can also be read as eagle feathers or the waters of Lake Tahoe.
The shapes reference the flat land and cliffs of the Palisades, while the wavelike forms exude the distinct vibes of California culture. rich-text
Letter from President Dee Byrne
For more than a year, our loyal community has been waiting, wondering and guessing what the new name for our resort would be. Today marks the first day of the next chapter of our resort’s storied history. From our founding in 1949 and hosting the 1960 Winter Olympics, to the freeskiing pioneers and Olympians that put us on the map, the last seven decades have cemented this resort’s place in the halls of ski history. While the name may be new, the legend and legacy of these valleys continue on, now as Palisades Tahoe.
We chose the name Palisades Tahoe because we wanted a name that captured the unique spirit that defines this resort and welcomes all to its slopes. Anyone who is a skier has an affinity for their home resort, but there are few mountains that evoke the kind of passion and dedication from their community as ours do. Though we will refer to these mountains under a new name, Palisades Tahoe is an undeniable representation of the freedom and progression born of these peaks. Our new logo, an eagle set among two towering peaks, represents the freedom that has defined generations of people who called these mountains home. The freedom to push boundaries, as well as the freedom to come as you are, at any ability level. We want the world to know the welcoming and inclusive spirit of a place where you don’t have to have an Olympic medal to feel like a hero. A place that makes everyone feel like a legend.
Starting today you will see some changes around the resort. We have already begun changing over signage, and all former logowear has been removed from our retail shops. We are asking for patience and understanding as we make the transition; our old name and logo appear in thousands of locations across our resort, and though the majority of public-facing signage, and especially the most prominent uses, will be removed by the start of the 2021-22 ski season, we expect it will take multiple seasons before it is entirely removed from the resort.
This will take some getting used to, but this name change was an important initiative for our company. 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. We have a well-earned reputation as a progressive resort at the forefront of ski culture, and progress can’t happen without change.
I invite you to visit our website to learn more information on our new name, logo and the process we took to get there.
-Dee Byrne, President & COO of Palisades Tahoe
Why We Changed Our Name
Etymology of the word "Squaw"
Early examples of the use of the word squaw, and the Princess vs. Squaw Stereotype, give insight into the common and longstanding derogatory use of the word.
"…the crafty ‘squaw’ … the squalid and withered person of this hag.” - James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans, 1826
"...the universal ‘squaw’ – squat, angular, pig-eyed, ragged, wretched, and insect-haunted.” - Lt. James W. Steele (Memoirs, 1883)
"By way of expressing their utter contempt for him they called him a ‘squaw’.’’ - Welcker, in Tales West, 1890
The Common Stereotypes of the Princess and the Squaw
"A squaw is a “failed” princess, “who is lower than a bad White woman” - Bird, 1999, p. 73
"The squaw is the “darker twin” of Pocahontas and the “anti-Pocahontas.” - Valaskakis, 2005, p. 134
"Where the princess was beautiful, the squaw was ugly, even deformed. Where the princess was virtuous, the squaw was debased, immoral, a sexual convenience. Where the princess was proud, the squaw lived a squalid life of servile toil, mistreated by her men—and openly available to non-Native men.” - Francis (1995, pp. 121–122)
The Naming of "Squaw Valley"
Several origin stories exist for the naming of Squaw Valley. The primary reference for the origin story is Edward Scott’s 1960 book “Squaw Valley.” The most commonly referenced origin story is some combination of the first and fourth below, directly referenced from the Scott book.
The legend of the faithful 'squaw' waiting patiently in the valley for her warrior brave to return, not knowing he had been killed in battle with the Paiutes.
|2||One ‘Indian Charlie’ who murdered his common-law wife in the valley during a game of ‘squaw poker.’ Unanimously acquitted of a jury of his fellow Washoe tribesman, after it was decided the white man’s red-eye had blinded him to what he is doing, he is said to have become known as ‘Squaw Valley Charlie’ and left his nickname on the valley.|
|3||Another source of the name is said to be the ‘Indian Squaw’s profile’ on Squaw Peak.|
|4||A logical source of the name is based on fact. When the first emigrants moved through the valley in 1849-50 they were surprised to find only 'squaws' and children at the summer encampment. The bucks were away on a trek to Long Valley, sixteen miles to the southeast over the granite ridge from Lower Hell Hole and the Rubicon River. There they hunted the ‘picket pin’ gopher and caught grasshoppers to augment the tribe’s food supply. Since the emigrants found a majority of 'squaws' in the base camp they named it Squaw Valley.|
|5||An Olympic Valley resident brought this article to our attention when researching the history of the valley. From the 1800s, this Placer Herald article details a cold-blooded murder of an Indigenous women as the reason the valley got its name.|
While some believe that the most common origin story honors the legend of Native American women waiting in the valley, the idea of “honor” is contradicted by history and context. California became a state in 1850, around the same time that Squaw Valley was given its name. Upon becoming a state, California immediately enacted laws to protect and reward the kidnapping, enslavement, and sale of Native Americans. By this time, the term squaw had already taken on a primarily dehumanizing and derogatory context.
No matter the true origin or intent of the name, we do not believe you can honor someone with a name that they clearly consider to be offensive.
Efforts Across North America To Change "Squaw" Place Names
Across North America, numerous sites and landmarks have eliminated ‘squaw’ and renamed their locations. Seven states have codified that it is offensive and needs to be replaced. Many more places are in the process of doing the same.
|1995||Minnesota||Minnesota, 1995: State law enacted to change the names of 19 geographic features with 'squaw' names “to other non-derogatory names.”|
1999-2009 Montana A decade-long project to remove the der
|1999-2009||Montana||A decade-long project to remove the derogatory word ‘squaw’ from the names of 76 streams, buttes and mountains across Montana has been completed|
|2000||Maine||State law enacted to change all names including the word ‘squaw.’|
|2000||Oklahoma||The word 'squaw' is removed from all geographic names used in Oklahoma.|
|2002||Idaho||State law enacted to eventually rename all geographical place names in the state to eliminate the use of the word 'squaw.'|
|2003||South Dakota||Offensive place names in South Dakota by county are replaced including Squaw Lake, Squaw Flat, Squaw Creek, and Squaw Hill.|
|2003||Oregon||Prohibition on the use of term 'squaw' except as required by federal law, a public body may not use the term 'squaw' in the name of public property.|
How is "Squaw" Viewed Today?
"Squaw" is listed and accepted as offensive, derogatory, racist, and misogynistic by the vast majority of modern sources and references. Stated differently, our name is generally accepted to include an offensive and derogatory slur.
Dictionaries Uniformly Refer to "Squaw" as Offensive
Oxford Language Dictionary: “Offensive”
Dictionary.com: “Disparaging and Offensive”
Merriam Webster: “Now, usually offensive” and “Dated, usually disparaging.”
American Heritage Dictionary: “Offensive”
Cambridge Dictionary: “now considered offensive by many people.”
Collins Dictionary: “Offensive”
Macmillan Thesaurus: “Offensive,” synonyms include “coon, colored, coolie, dago, and gypsy.”
The Media Generally Starts from the Accepted Premise that "Squaw" is a Derogatory Term
Associated Press: “derogatory term”
Reno Gazette Journal: “derogatory term”
San Jose Mercury News: “derogatory term”
LA Times: “derogatory term”
Powder Magazine: “racial slur”
Snowbrains: “racial slur”
Sierra Sun: “deemed offensive”
Fox affiliates: “derogatory term”
Teton Gravity: “racial slur”
USA Today: “considered offensive”
London Telegraph: “racist slur”
What does the Washoe Tribe say?
The Washoe Tribe is constituted of approximately 2,000 people. They are governed by a Tribal Council, consisting of 12 representatives. The Council is responsible for the cultural preservation of the Washoe history and culture, and the Chair is responsible for the daily operations of the tribe. The Tribe are landowners in Olympic Valley, where they own a large parcel adjacent to the Park.
"We have been in the area for thousands of years. Olympic Valley is within the ancestral homeland of the Washoe people. The word itself is a constant reminder of the unjust treatment of the native people, of the Washoe people. It’s a constant reminder of those time periods when it was not good for us. It’s a term that was inflicted upon us by somebody else and we don’t agree with it.” - Darrel Cruz, Washoe Tribe Historic Preservation Office
"That was a way to break us down and to devalue us and view us not as humans so we would be easier to push out.” - Serrell Smokey, Washoe Tribe Chair
What do other Native Americans say?
Tribes and members of Tribes across North America have pushed to change squaw place names.
"The term is ‘one of four terms most offensive to Native Americans.'" - Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a retired Native American United States Senator born in Auburn, California
"Yes, I’m an Indigenous woman being honored in a hotel that is named after a slur used to describe Native American women as sex objects. It was painful to bring my Native sisters here to celebrate with me. This is one of the openly racist, anti-Native American terms that people still justify the use of.” - Gabriella Cazares-Kelly, Tohono O’odham
"It’s time to change the s-word on the street to match the name of Piestewa Peak. The s-word continues to be one that is highly derogatory and of the sexual nature to American Indian women, and one that continues to be used as a negative tool, as a weapon, to make us feel less than human.” - Patti Hibbeler, Salish/Kootenai
"For me, the term is racist and derogatory. It is meant to belittle somebody or belittle their worth. Historically it has been used to [mean] prostitution as well as sexual violence against women.” - Chauma Jansen, Navajo/Sioux/Assiniboine
"Over the past month I have struggled to find an answer considering the protests against change. This river, valley and communities are the reason we choose to live here. With these shared commonalities, my unanswered question to the protest argument is this: Why do you fight so hard, to offend the Native Methow People?” - Mark Miller, Methow
Frequently Asked Questions
After extensive research into the etymology and history of the term “squaw,” it is undeniable that the word is now widely considered a racist and sexist slur. This is contrary to our company’s core values.
Why is the word “squaw” considered offensive?
We recognize that when the resort was named in 1949, there was no intent whatsoever to be derogatory or offensive—it was just a reference to the name of the valley. Similarly, when our guests and community members say the name today, they are not doing so with an intention to be racist or sexist. However, the reality is the times change, societal norms evolve and we learn things we didn’t previously know. Over the years, more and more has been learned about the word “squaw.” It has been the subject of extensive research and discussion. There is now insurmountable evidence, dating back to the early 1800s, that the word “squaw” has long been used as a derogatory and dehumanizing reference to a Native American woman.
Over recent years, the growing recognition of the full history of the word has resulted in all major dictionaries recognizing it as derogatory and/or offensive. This recognition has in turn kicked off calls for changes of placenames containing “squaw” across North America. In the last 25 years there have been dozens of successful efforts to remove the name “squaw” from locations. In 1995, Minnesota made it illegal to have a “squaw” placename; six more states have followed suit. The U.S. Forest Service in our region has declared the word offensive with respect to Forest Service placenames. Locally, the Washoe Tribe has actively sought name changes, and has previously asked local government for the removal of “squaw” from locations within its ancestral homeland, which includes our resort.
What is the new name?
The new name of the resort is Palisades Tahoe. The resort as a whole will be known as Palisades Tahoe, and we will use Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows to refer to each base area when needed, such as on directional signage.
When will you implement the new name?
We will begin implementing the new name Palisades Tahoe immediately. You will see that we already began changing over on-site signage, our website and our social media handles. From today forward we will be known as Palisades Tahoe.
Why did you choose that name?
Following the community-centered discovery process, the recurring themes that came out of our conversations about what sets this resort apart included the unique geography and one-of-a-kind terrain of these mountains, the deep Olympic and ski culture histories across both valleys, the resort’s ability to challenge all levels of skiers and riders, and the incredible strength and loyalty of the community.
With the name Palisades Tahoe, the resort honors the past—the arena that put Olympic Valley on the map and the terrain with the same name alongside the historic Alpine Bowl Chair at Alpine Meadows, that inspired countless skiers to push the limits, and created a culture unlike any other—and looks towards a new chapter.
Who was involved with deciding the new name?
Our resort leadership had the final say on what the new name would be, but there were many people involved in the process along the way. We solicited community input via surveys and focus groups, and we hired a branding agency with experience in this field to help us take all of the history, culture and emotion that came out of those community discussions and turn it into a name that best encapsulated what this place means to its most fervent fans.
Why did it take more than a year to change the name?
Renaming a business with 70 years of history is no easy task. It’s not something anyone here at the resort had experience in, and it’s not really something that there is a standard roadmap for. While we thought it would only take us a few months to rename, it took longer for all the right reasons. While time-consuming, we made it a priority to capture a lot of community opinion via surveys, working groups and one-on-one interviews. Our goal was to determine what it is about these mountains that sets them apart and keeps people coming back, and how we might best reflect those thoughts and feelings in a new name. We took our time to make sure we were doing right by the community and keeping them at the heart of this decision.
What about the many local businesses that use “Squaw” in their name? Will they be required to change theirs?
While we hope that the local businesses that use “squaw” in their name will join us in this initiative, that decision is entirely theirs. We have offered assistance to those who want to change their names because of our decision.
Why did the resort think now is the right time to change the name?
The use of the term “squaw” in our resort name has been a topic of discussion for many years, but with the momentum of recognition and accountability we saw around the country in 2020, it was clear that the time had come for us to fully acknowledge and confront the reality of this word. We are fortunate to have the support and resources of our parent company, Alterra Mountain Company, while we undergo the extensive and expensive process of a large-scale renaming of the entire resort. Our former name is emblazoned all over our resort, from our uniforms and name tags, to signage, vehicles all the way down to pint glasses. The decision to change our name was in no way the “easy way out,” but it is undoubtedly the right thing to do.
Won’t changing the name erase the history and legacy of the resort?
We have to accept that as much as we cherish the memories we associate with our resort name, that love does not justify continuing to use a term that is widely accepted to be a racist and sexist slur. While the resort name has changed, this special place will always be the location of the 1960 Winter Olympics, the home of the iconic KT-22 and Summit lifts, the place where extreme skiing pioneers changed the sport forever and the treasured mountain home for so many people who revere this amazing ski resort.
Why are there still some signs around that say "Squaw" Valley?
We are asking for patience and understanding as we make the transition; our old name and logo appear in thousands of locations across our resort, and though the majority of public-facing signage, and especially the most prominent uses, will be removed by the start of the 2021-22 ski season, we expect it will take multiple seasons before it is entirely removed from the resort.
How was the Washoe Tribe involved?
Following our 2020 commitment to rename the resort, our team embarked on building a relationship and partnership with the Washoe Tribe. The Washoe were the original people of the lands that Palisades Tahoe is on, and are current landowners in Olympic Valley, and it was important to us to explore how we could make tribe members feel more welcome in these valleys, beginning with removing harmful language from the resort. The Washoe Tribe was involved in the discovery process, but they were not consulted on the name decision. They expressed to us that their goal was to remove the use of “squaw,” and they supported our decision making beyond that.
What does your partnership with the Washoe Tribe entail?
Going beyond the name change, 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 valley’s origins as the ancestral land of the Washoe Tribe, and to ensure mountain accessibility for present and future Washoe generations. This summer, the resort launched the Washoe Cultural Tour series, which offers guests a view of the mountains through the eyes of the Washoe people. Darrel Cruz, Director of the Tribal Historic Preservation Office and Cultural Resources Office of the Washoe Tribe, shares stories of Washoe history and culture at the High Camp mid-mountain lodge. In addition, Palisades Tahoe will install a Washoe exhibit at High Camp, complete with tribal artifacts that show the Washoe way of life that members seek to preserve to this day. The groups are also exploring future programming centered on making skiing more accessible to Washoe Tribe members.
What about the "Squaw Creek" and "Squaw One" chairlifts? Will they be renamed?
Yes, Palisades Tahoe plans to debut new names for the "Squaw One" and "Squaw Creek" chairlifts, to be selected with input by the Washoe Tribe and the public, respectively.
Will the names of "Squaw Peak" and "Squaw Creek" change also?
Yes, the Washoe Tribe is leading the efforts to rename these geographical entities in Olympic Valley, which is a long and involved process with various government agencies. The Palisades Tahoe team is assisting the Washoe Tribe in these efforts.
Are you still selling "Squaw Valley" merchandise?
No, all “Squaw Valley” logowear has been removed from our retail shops. At this time we are still selling Alpine Meadows logowear.
How does this affect Alpine Meadows?
Palisades Tahoe is the name of the resort as a whole. We have been one resort for a decade now. Though Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows have their own identities, we have very much been a single entity for a while. While Palisades Tahoe will encompass the whole resort, we will use Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows to refer to each base area, for uses like on directional signage or which base area you should pick up rentals or meet your ski lesson at.
Press Releases & Media
Media Coverage about the New Name