Squaw Valley Public Service District changes name
At its August board meeting on Tuesday, the Squaw Valley Public Service District unanimously voted to adopt a resolution to change its name to the Olympic Valley Public Service District.
The decision comes on the heels of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows also dropping “squaw” from its name due to the term being deemed offensive toward Native Americans.
In a recent interview with the Sierra Sun, Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California Historic Preservation Office and Cultural Resources Office Director Darrel Cruz said the term was thrust upon the Washoe people, arguing that it’s time to remove the word from Olympic Valley.
“The word itself is a constant reminder of the unjust treatment of the native people, of the Washoe people,” said Cruz. “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.”
In February of 2019, the Squaw Valley Municipal Advisory reported on a formal request from the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California asking that the name of county assets be changed from Squaw Valley to Olympic Valley. Similarly, Minnesota, Montana, Maine, Oklahoma, Idaho, South Dakota, and Oregon have enacted laws to change the names of geographical features with the term squaw. Locally, Squaw Valley Academy was recently renamed to Lake Tahoe Preparatory School.
“This is a very emotional issue … the name squaw is embedded in many of our souls. It’s a core of our resident’s identity, a very positive word. It’s a place we’re proud of, a place that we honor, a place that has been our home — in my case for four decades,” said Squaw Valley Public Service District Director Fred Ilfeld.
“This is a very serious matter. It affects people very deeply. I’m talking about residents of this valley, and I want to remind people that even though it affects us deeply, the prime definition of how we go about addressing this issue is the people that it represents. Squaw represents Native American women, whether you consider it positive or negative, and the Native American women should have the last say on this … we need to change our name.”
The district was first incorporated in 1964 as Squaw Valley County Water District and later changed its name to Squaw Valley Public Service District in 1998. The change to Olympic Valley Public Service District will go into effect on Oct. 1.
Implementation of the name change will include alterations to lettering on the district building, the fire department sign and logo, lettering and logos of the district fleet, and replacement of banners and removable signage. The full cost of the name change has not been estimated, according to the district.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-550-2643.
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