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The Former Squaw Valley Debuts New Name After Year-Long Process

The new moniker was inspired by the resort's legendary ski terrain, and will be in effect immediately.

A little over one year after announcing its intention to drop the derogatory “squaw” from its moniker, a certain North Lake Tahoe resort has finally unveiled its new name. As of today, the ski area will be known as Palisades Tahoe.

While the new name was originally expected to be announced at the end of the last ski season, the resort took its time deciding what to change it to, wanting to be thoughtful and diligent about the process. And really, what’s a few more months in a debate that’s been brewing for the last 20 years? Community members first voiced concerns alongside the local Washoe tribe about the racist slur toward Native American women in the resort’s name back in the mid-1980s.

Squaw Valley
The new name was inspired by the Palisades zone on the mountain, notoriously steep and challenging  terrain (shown above) that’s been featured in many a ski film. Photo: Hank DeVre/Palisades Tahoe

Palisades Tahoe is a nod to the area’s reputation as the home of freeskiing. The name was inspired by the towering granite faces that rise above the resort, and reflects the collective decision of the passionate locals who call this place home. More specifically, the name comes directly from a zone on the mountain, a steep and technical area above the Siberia chair that’s figured into many ski flicks over the years.

“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,” said Palisades Tahoe President and COO Dee Byrne in a press release. “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.”

Related: Squaw Valley to Change Name

For a little background, the resort committed to changing its name late last summer in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and amid a sea change of similar efforts. Resort representatives worked with the local Washoe People, whose ancestral lands are in the Olympic Valley, and the local community to pinpoint more appropriate inspirations for a new name, focusing on the neighboring mountains, valleys, and other geographic features that set this region apart.

After conducting a handful of surveys and collecting over 3,000 responses, the resort organized focus groups to take the temperatures of various community members to find out what was important to them in a new name. Themes that emerged from that research included the area’s unique geography, its enduring Olympic history, the resort’s legendary terrain, and its fiercely loyal locals. Thus, Palisades Tahoe was born. 

Further putting its money where its mouth is, the new Palisades Tahoe just announced a partnership with the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California to help educate people about the tribe’s history, culture, and presence within the valley. The hope is to guarantee continuing accessibility to the mountains for present and future generations of Washoe people.  

This past summer, the resort debuted a Washoe Cultural Tour series at High Camp mid-mountain lodge, which serves up the history and culture of the mountains through the voice of the Washoe by sharing the tribe’s story. More programming is to come.

“The Washoe People have lived in the area for thousands of years; we have great reverence for our ancestors, history, and lands,” said Washoe Tribal Chairman Serrell Smokey on the name change announcement. “We are very pleased with this decision; today is a day that many have worked towards for decades. The Washoe Tribal Council recognizes the significance of the name change and on behalf of the Washoe people expresses its great appreciation for this positive step forward.”

For a deeper dive into the process and issues that prompted it, read our sister mag Outside’s excellent story here.