The Resort at Squaw Creek, a California resort near Lake Tahoe, has changed its name and logo to the Everline Resort & Spa to reflect a more sensitive and current approach to history and language. The change follows criticism from the Washoe Tribe that the old name, which referred to a derogatory slur against Native American women, was offensive. The Washoe, who have lived in the area for thousands of years, have collaborated with the resort to come up with the new name, which is meant to “evoke the resort’s evergreen mountain escape” while showing “respect for the Washoe Tribe’s history and ancestors.”
The change in name is just one example of a growing trend of companies and organisations rebranding to reflect current thinking on language and history. In November, an Arizona national park changed the name of a stop along the park’s Bright Angel Trail from Indian Garden to Havasupai Gardens, reflecting the name of a tribe that had lived on the land for generations. In January, the US Department of the Interior replaced a derogatory term for Indigenous women used for centuries in five areas across the country, while in Vermont, the Suicide Six ski resort changed its name to Saskandena Six to avoid any allusion to self-harm.
In each case, it’s apparent that there is a growing desire to show sensitivity and empathy towards groups that have often been marginalised in American history. These moves come at a time of heightened public awareness around issues of identity and representation, influenced in part by the Black Lives Matter movement, which has put issues of cultural appropriation and erasure in the public eye. Companies and organisations that refuse to acknowledge the urgency of this issue risk being seen as out of touch or callous.
The Resort at Squaw Creek’s change in name is a positive move towards greater understanding and inclusivity, but it’s not enough. Companies should also examine their internal cultures and make sure they are equitable and diverse. Only by doing this can they hope to retain the trust and loyalty of their employees and customers in an age of greater awareness of social justice issues.