The host site of the 1960 Winter Olympics is changing its name after backlash over its ‘offensive’ meaning.
The Squaw Valley Ski Resort, located in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, will cease to use the name going forward.
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The word ‘squaw’ once simply meant woman, but has become a term to disparage Indigenous women.
Ron Cohen, President and COO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, announced the decision in an open letter, explaining the ‘racist and sexist’ origins of the word.
“While we love our local history and the memories we all associate with this place as it has been named for so long, we are confronted with the overwhelming evidence that the term ‘squaw’ is offensive,” Cohen said.
“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.”
Natalie Welch, a Native American athlete advocate, told ESPN: “To Native American communities … the s-word is as jarring as the C-word in English,”
“Imagine driving by and seeing a name that reads C*** Valley Ski Resort, because that’s what it means to us.”
The name has been controversial for a number of years, but the resort decided to act in accordance with a number of other unpopular Native American terms being ditched recently.
The Washington Redskins NFL team recently announced they would change their name, temporarily becoming the Washington Football Team.
“With the momentum of recognition and accountability we are seeing around the country, it is clear that the time has come for us to fully acknowledge and confront the reality of this word,” the resort said in a statement.
Three sporting teams are still using ‘squaw’ for their names - the Bellmont Squaws (a volleyball team located in Indiana), the Dodge County Squaws (a basketball team from Georgia) and the Jourdanton Squaws (a Texas-based basketball team).
Stoney Squaw Mountain set for name change
Meanwhile, the Canadian government says it is planning to remove the offensive name from a mountain in Banff National Park.
In a written statement to CTV News, officials said Ottawa is committed to reconciliation and renewed relationships with Indigenous peoples.
They said the offensive name of Stoney Squaw Mountain and trail has been a concern for Indigenous groups and Parks Canada for some time.
It added that Indigenous groups in Alberta are working on formally proposing a new name.
The term has already been removed from the Parks Canada website and the statement said it will also be removed from any road signs, trailheads, maps and publications by the end of 2020.
Momentum is also building to rename another prominent landmark — known as Squaw's Tit — on Mount Charles Stewart near Canmore in Alberta.
Canmore lawyer Jude Daniels has been working since 2014 to find a formal name for the landmark, while fellow lawyer Natasha Egan joined her earlier this year.
“(We) are just disgusted by the name,” Egan said in an interview from Calgary.
“Colloquially, people call it The Tit. So the racism was dropped, but the misogyny remains.”
with Canadian Press