Story at a glance
- Fresno County is considering renaming “Squaw Valley” in California.
- The name is a racist and misogynist slur for Indigenous women.
- A petition to rename the valley has almost 500 signatures, but has been met with some opposition.
Lawmakers and residents in California’s Squaw Valley were taken aback by a resolution to rename the area to “Nim Valley,” eliminating the racist and misogynist slur for Indigenous women.
“Citizens bring in whatever they want to bring in and they put it on the agenda to be discussed,” Orange Cove Mayor Victor Lopez told local news outlet GV Wire. “I will not vote in favor of it. I can tell you right now, I guarantee you I will not support that.”
A citizen identified as Roman Rain Tree submitted the resolution in December to City Manager Rudy Hernandez, who added it to the agenda but said he would not support it, reported the GV Wire.
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"The current name underscores the disparaging impact on the local community of which the name represents. The word 'squaw' perpetuates a sexualized, exploitative, and humiliating narrative that continues to focus the desires and disgust of early Euro-Americans on the bodies of Native American women," said a petition by Roman Rain Tree to rename the valley that had more than 400 signatures as of noon on Jan. 29.
Just last year, the Squaw Valley ski resort, where the Winter Olympics were held in 1960, acknowledged that the name was a racist and sexist slur and announced it would change the name after the winter season ended in 2021.
"With the momentum of recognition and accountability we are seeing around the country, we have reached the conclusion that now is the right time to acknowledge a change needs to happen. 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. 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. We will find a new name that reflects our core values, storied past, and respect for all those who have enjoyed this land," said Ron Cohen, president and COO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, in a statement at the time.
Much of the problem, it seems, is the lack of awareness about the resolution, which was scheduled for a vote on Wednesday but has since been delayed.
“It affects us greatly, as Orange Cove is Our Originating Post Office. We residents of Squaw Valley are basically opposed to a ‘City’ not inclusive of our area, attempting to Officially begin this process, and Also of the Last Minute Notification," wrote Joyce Berube in a Facebook post to Fresno Assemblyman Jim Patterson, who asked what is the "purpose" of the meeting was.
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