Squaw Valley change resort name and reveal new branding

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has officially been renamed Palisades Tahoe today with a new logo that honours the resort’s history as a land of legends—home to freeskiing pioneers, Winter Olympians and cultural icons across more than seven decades of ski history.

The 2020 commitment by the resort to rename the destination was made after extensive research into the historical and current usage and regional history of the word “squaw,” and discussions with the local Washoe Tribe, which affirmed the position that it is widely considered a racist and sexist slur against Indigenous women.

Inspired by the sheer granite faces and chutes that compose this otherworldly terrain, the Palisades Tahoe name change will bring both mountains of the former Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows together under one unified name.

The resort will begin implementing the new resort 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.

The renaming process began last year with an in-depth research and discovery process that would be the first step in informing the new name. At the outset, the resort team dissected what elements of these neighbouring valleys, from the mountains to the people, truly set them apart. They looked at the history of the Washoe Tribe, whose ancestral lands were in Olympic Valley, to extreme ski movies that featured the resort, to the spectrum of feedback on the name change decision.

The team also conducted numerous surveys—collecting more than 3,000 responses—and held focus groups in order to consult with a wide range of individuals in the community, including local residents, longtime pass holders, athletes who grew up on these slopes, employees of the resort, and members of the local Washoe tribe.

The central themes that emerged from the discovery process 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 honours the past—the arena that put Olympic Valley on the map, inspired countless skiers to push the limits, and created a culture unlike any other—and looks towards a new chapter.

“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 deep, meaningful, and positive these feelings are and 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, especially for the generations yet to come, who will grow up without having to use a slur to identify the place where they chase their dreams down the mountain.”

The Palisades Tahoe name captures and honours two of the resort’s most legendary arenas, one on the Olympic Valley side and one on the Alpine Meadows side, where granite walls rise all around and where generations of freeskiers made their mark. Capturing this spirit of freedom, the new logo aligns the two unique mountains that make up Palisades Tahoe with the outline of a majestic eagle—a nod to the sacred Washoe symbol used to communicate with the heavens, the powerful bird that calls Tahoe home, and to the resort’s freeskiing roots.

The bold colors and interwoven design pay homage to these majestic mountains—past, present, and future—and the fierce allegiance and individuality of the Palisades Tahoe community.

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 valleys’ 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 offered 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.

Palisades Tahoe will also 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 centred on making skiing more accessible to Washoe Tribe members.

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Squaw Valley ski resort change name, remove Native American slur

Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.