PORTLAND, Maine — A ski mountain is set to remove a derogatory term for Native American women from its name — two decades after state law eliminated the slur from names of communities and public landmarks.
The leader of a group of investors that’s buying Big Squaw Mountain Resort in Greenville vowed to retire the name upon completion of the purchase, the Portland Press Herald reported.
“It’s going to change. There is no doubt about that,” said Perry Williams, managing partner at Big Lake Development Co.
“It’s about time,” Penobscot National Tribe Ambassador Maulian Dana said of the prospective owners’ plans.
The mountain’s name was changed from Big Squaw Mountain to Big Moose Mountain after the state banned the word from public place names like towns, mountains and lakes in 2000. But the offensive word had carried on at the ski resort because it’s a privately owned business.
The word “squaw,” derived from the Algonquin language, may have once simply meant “woman,” but over generations, the word morphed into a misogynist and racist term to disparage Indigenous women, according to experts.
In Maine, Dana said she’s pleased that the new owners will change the name — something the current owner has declined to do.
“I am thankful that the Wabanaki and Indigenous women and two spirits will have one less reminder of deep trauma as we move about our homeland,” Dana told the newspaper.
In September, a ski resort in California also removed the term from its name. This comes amid a broader, national effort to remove offensive or derogatory names from buildings, infrastructure and sports teams.
Two weeks ago, U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland ordered a task force to find replacement names for sites on federal land that use the term.
“Our nation’s lands and waters should be places to celebrate the outdoors and our shared cultural heritage — not to perpetuate the legacies of oppression,” Haaland said earlier this month.