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Latest News in Squaw Valley, CA

Fresno County defies Biden and Newsom administrations on move to rename Squaw Valley

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported how the Fresno County Supervisors voted on the resolution. The Board approved the resolution on a 3-1 vote. Supervisor Sal Quintero voted ‘no’ and Supervisor Brian Pacheco was absent.Fresno County supervisors formally oppose changing the name of the east-county mountain community of Squaw Valley — and are considering an official ballot vote on the name change.On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved a resolution acknowledging what th...

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported how the Fresno County Supervisors voted on the resolution. The Board approved the resolution on a 3-1 vote. Supervisor Sal Quintero voted ‘no’ and Supervisor Brian Pacheco was absent.

Fresno County supervisors formally oppose changing the name of the east-county mountain community of Squaw Valley — and are considering an official ballot vote on the name change.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved a resolution acknowledging what they say represents the majority of the Squaw Valley community’s opposition to a name change. Three of the five supervisors voted to approve the resolution, with Supervisor Sal Quintero voting against the resolution. Board Chair Brian Pacheco was absent from the meeting.

Supervisor Steve Brandau said the resolution is intended to tell people in Washington and Sacramento that “there’s an awful lot of dissent here in Squaw Valley” with the name change.

While the resolution serves as the county’s official response to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names regarding the proposed name change of Squaw Valley, it doesn’t stop the name change process from moving forward.

Brandau, who said he’s still not convinced the term is offensive, said he plans to talk with the county’s legal team about the possibility of an official ballot vote on the name change for Squaw Valley voters.

“Then, we would have probably more legal standing to support the local decision,” he said.

The vote in favor of the resolution came after over an hour of around 30 public comments from a mix of Squaw Valley and Fresno County residents at large who both opposed and supported the name change.

Many Squaw Valley residents who spoke in opposition to the name change on Tuesday said they don’t think it’s offensive, and blamed “cancel culture” and “the woke agenda” for the push to change the name. Others said they were concerned about the cost to local businesses and residents associated with the name change.

“We’re proud of our community, we’re proud of our community name,” Lonnie Work, a resident of Squaw Valley and chairman of the Save Squaw Valley committee, said during public comment.

Those in favor of the change said it’s an offensive, racist term, and that supervisors are wrong for not embracing the change.

“Ignorance isn’t an excuse for staying in the same lane,” Fresno County resident Gloria Hernandez said during public comment.

The term squaw – widely considered to be a slur against Native and Indigenous women, akin to calling someone the C-word, a slur for a woman’s genitalia – is being removed from federal and state lands.

In November 2021, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland issued a secretarial order declaring the term derogatory and ordering its removal from federal lands. Then, on Sept. 23, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 2022, which removes the term from California places by 2025.

Separately, in January, the “Change S Valley” coalition, led by Roman Rain Tree, a member of the local Dunlap Band of Mono Indians and Choinumni tribes, submitted a formal proposal to the federal BGN to request changing the name of Squaw Valley.

Supervisor Nathan Magsig, who represents the Squaw Valley area, said the name change process hasn’t given enough priority to local residents’ input. In the resolution he authored, Magsig said the new California law “usurps local control.”

But supervisors acknowledged that the process is moving forward and they might not be able to stop it.

“The federal government has divided us…and yet we’re powerless to do anything,” Supervisor Sal Quintero said. “We can give them our opinion and our thoughts, but they’ve made their decision.”

While the federal task force will consider the local community’s feedback, ultimately, the task force has the final decision on the name change.

According to a letter from the BGN, the California Advisory Committee on Geographic Names has also been asked to review the proposed change and is expected to make a decision at its Nov. 18 meeting.

In August, the BGN sent a letter to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors to solicit feedback on the Task Force’s proposal to rename Squaw Valley to Yokuts Valley.

The BGN will also receive input from the California Advisory Committee on Geographic Names, as well as from federally recognized American Indian Tribes on the name change, BGN officials told The Bee in January.

In response to the BGN’s letter, Magsig conducted an informal poll of Squaw Valley residents.

Magsig’s office sent ballots to Squaw Valley households based on the 2020 Census Data, he said during Tuesday’s meeting. Of the 1,435 ballots sent out, Magsig said about 635 ballots were returned.

Squaw Valley has around 3,500 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Of these ballots received, 87% opposed the name change. A separate community petition gathered over 500 signatures that opposed renaming Squaw Valley.

Furthermore, the poll found that the top three names that respondents preferred for a name change were: Bear Mountain, Dunlap (expanding the name of the neighboring community to include Squaw Valley) or Bear Valley.

Currently, the BGN’s top alternative name is Yokuts Valley.

Magsig acknowledged that the process wasn’t perfect, but he stands beside the process and the resolution.

“This is not 100% scientific, but I’m using the best tools at my disposal,” he said.

During Tuesday’s meeting, residents complained about the process from all sides.

Some said they were concerned with federal and state attempting to take more power from local municipalities with the new laws and executive orders.

Others said they didn’t get to voice their opinions because they never received a ballot.

Linda Tubach, a resident of Squaw Valley in favor of the name change, said she doesn’t think the ballots represent the “majority” of the community, since people were able to photocopy the ballots and mail them in.

She also criticized the meeting Magsig hosted on Sept. 20, which drew hundreds of attendees. The meeting was marked by anger, and there was booming applause for those who spoke in favor of keeping the name. Magsig said the meeting showed him that a majority of the attendees do not want a name change.

But Tubach said there was “no equitable exchange of views,” and that there wasn’t adequate notice of the meeting in advance.

Work, of the Save Squaw Valley committee, added that people only received three days notice for the meeting.

“You didn’t hold a public hearing and you held a meeting that was announced only on your Facebook,” said Hernandez of Fresno County. “That’s not local control – that’s your control.”

This story was originally published October 11, 2022 4:54 PM.

Newsom signs law removing ‘squaw’ across California. What it means for Squaw Valley

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a state bill on Friday, California Native American Day, that will remove the word “squaw,” now widely considered a slur, from California places by 2025.In the central San Joaquin Valley, Assembly Bill 2022 should impact the rural Fresno County town of Squaw Valley.This “racist and sexist term” will be “removed from all geographic features and place names in the state, and a process to review petitions to change offensive or derogatory place names will be created,” a n...

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a state bill on Friday, California Native American Day, that will remove the word “squaw,” now widely considered a slur, from California places by 2025.

In the central San Joaquin Valley, Assembly Bill 2022 should impact the rural Fresno County town of Squaw Valley.

This “racist and sexist term” will be “removed from all geographic features and place names in the state, and a process to review petitions to change offensive or derogatory place names will be created,” a news release issued by the Governor’s Office states.

“This comes on the heels of federal action this month to complete the removal of this slur from nearly 650 geographic features across the country, including several name changes advanced by California based on extensive tribal engagement,” the statement continues. “The Newsom Administration has launched a series of ongoing actions to identify and redress discriminatory names of features attached to the State Parks and transportation systems.”

The law also follows a two-year campaign to change the name of Squaw Valley, led by a local Native American man, Roman Rain Tree. Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig led the first public meeting in Squaw Valley earlier this week about renaming proposals, which were largely rebuffed by an angry crowd.

More than 100 California places contain the S-word, said Assemblymember James Ramos of Southern California, who introduced the new law along with the chair of California’s Legislative Women’s Caucus, Assemblymember Cristina Garcia. The bill has 13 coauthors, including Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno. AB 2022 was unanimously passed by state legislators last month.

“It is an idiom that came into use during the westward expansion of America, and it is not a tribal word,” Ramos wrote of the S-word in a news release. “For decades, Native Americans have argued against the designation’s use because behind that expression is the disparagement of Native women that contributes to the crisis of missing and murdered people in our community.”

AB 2022 is among seven new laws signed by Newsom on Friday related to American Indian communities, the majority of them authored by Ramos, the first California Native American elected to the state’s legislature. One of those is AB 1314, which enables a “Feather Alert,” similar to an Amber and Silver alert, to assist in the search for missing Native American people.

The signing of AB 2022 came the same day the governor declared Sept. 23, 2022 Native American Day in California, and followed the day’s 55th annual celebration, held on the steps of the state Capitol. Its scheduled speakers included Ramos and Tribal Affairs Secretary Christina Snider of the Governor’s Office of Tribal Affairs. Newsom released a written statement as the event was underway.

“Our path forward demands that we replace systems and symbols of oppression with a new vision of California that appreciates, as a baseline, the unique cultures and histories of the first people of this place and reflects the diversity and contributions of all peoples who now call California home,” Newsom said in the statement about Native American Day.

“Over the course of the last year, we have strived in partnership with California Native peoples to transform the state and our collective culture in ways that many could only dream of. We have worked with tribal nations to restore ancestral names and cultural practices to many of the places where Native people have lived, survived and thrived in since time immemorial.”

It wasn’t immediately clear how AB 2022 will impact a federal review of Squaw Valley’s name by the Interior Department and U.S. Board on Geographic Names. The federal agencies announced this month that they removed the word “squaw” from nearly 650 geographic features, but not the town of Squaw Valley and six other populated unincorporated places. They are conducting an additional federal review of those seven place names because there are “unique concerns” regarding their renaming.

The bill has various benchmark dates to be met along the way to changing “squaw” names by Jan. 1, 2025.

If the “local governing body fails to recommend a replacement,” the law states the California Advisory Committee on Geographic Names — established by the Natural Resources Agency to be a liaison to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names — will need to choose replacements, “under its discretion, and in consultation with advisory bodies.”

Magsig said his office mailed 1,400 questionnaires this week to Squaw Valley households to give residents of the town a chance to suggest new names. He’s planning to present the findings at an Oct. 11 Board of Supervisors meeting. Magsig previously asked Newsom to veto AB 2022, saying the bill lacked local input.

The law requires tribes be consulted about the name changes, too, including those that are not federally recognized and listed by the California Native American Heritage Commission.

In Squaw Valley, places that would be affected by the legislation include a school, ambulance and fire stations, a cemetery and a post office.

The law says the California Constitution “requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state.” Magsig said during the Squaw Valley meeting that he doesn’t know if the state will pay for related costs incurred by residents for things like updating vital records. Rain Tree hopes local leaders will help create an online fund to assist residents with related costs if needed.

“No geographic feature or place name in the State of California should have a name that includes racial and sexual slurs and stereotypes targeting Native Americans, which perpetuate prejudice, disparage racial minorities, and contribute to the current crisis of missing and murdered indigenous people,” the law states.

AB 2022 states the California Advisory Committee on Geographic Names can also submit requests to its federal counterpart, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, to render decisions on proposed name changes.

The law doesn’t mention business names. It describes “geographic features” as any publicly owned structure in the state, including navigable waters, geographic features, parks, state and local roads, bridges, and publicly owned buildings. It describes a “place” as any natural geographic feature or street, alley, or other road “within the jurisdiction of the state or political subdivision of the state.”

The law doesn’t explicitly say town names would be covered. But it can be implied, since it directs agencies and local governing bodies to work to find new place names, said Maria Lopez, communications director for Ramos’ office.

Yokuts Valley is the preferred new name for the town of Squaw Valley in the name change proposal Rain Tree sent to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names earlier in January. It was revised from a previous request to call it Nuum Valley, which means “the people” in the Mono language, Rain Tree said.

The physical basin of Squaw Valley was renamed to Yokuts Basin earlier this month by the Interior Department. Yokuts is a regional term that encompasses many traditional tribes.

Rain Tree said an activity center connected to Squaw Valley’s library in the small town denied a recent request from him to lead an educational program there about Yokuts, in addition to denying his request to use the space last year to hold a meeting about a name change.

Many residents at the meeting held this week by Magsig defiantly proclaimed that the town’s name should remain Squaw Valley. There was almost no discussion during that meeting about what a new name could be.

Kenneth Woodrow, chairman of the Wuksachi tribe, said an indigenous word for a traditional village in the Squaw Valley area is related to the bear, and that the town’s library, Bear Mountain, isn’t far off from it. He said his great-grandmother was born there.

Rain Tree called the signing of AB 2022 the beginning of a healing process for Mother Earth, and all Native American women, girls and their families.

The campaign Rain Tree started, Rename S-Valley, Fresno County, was listed by Ramos as a sponsor of AB 2022 along with several other groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union. Ramos’ long list of bill supporters includes the Tachi Yokut Tribe and Tule River Tribe from the Valley.

“Thank you Assemblymember Ramos for authoring this much needed piece of legislation,” Rain Tree continued. “Thank you Gov. Newsom. And thank you Assemblymember Arambula for making time to listen to me.”

This story was originally published September 23, 2022 4:49 PM.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrated in Fresno while Squaw Valley controversy continues

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Indigenous Peoples’ Day was celebrated at Fresno City Hall on Monday, just 24 hours before the Board of Supervisors is set to discuss the potential renaming of Squaw Valley.Governor Newsom signed a bill in September (AB2022) that requires “Squaw” to be removed from all geographic features and place names in the state by 2025 because it can be ...

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Indigenous Peoples’ Day was celebrated at Fresno City Hall on Monday, just 24 hours before the Board of Supervisors is set to discuss the potential renaming of Squaw Valley.

Governor Newsom signed a bill in September (AB2022) that requires “Squaw” to be removed from all geographic features and place names in the state by 2025 because it can be seen as an offensive, racial and sexist slur.

“The people who live here and how we respond to this is how we’re going to be judged in history,” said Roman Rain Tree, who has been pushing to change the name of Squaw Valley for years.

“As long as they allow people to come from all over the world to come up to Kings Canyon National Park and pass through our ancestral homeland and think the “S” word is an appropriate word to call your mother, we’re never going to gain Federal acknowledgment,” he said.

However, many residents in Squaw Valley disagree with a name change, as expressed at a community meeting in September.

“When you change the name of a community, you’re changing history!”, one resident said.“How insulting for someone to come around 100 years later and want to change that!”, another resident said.

Shortly before Newsom signed AB2022, Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig said he mailed out surveys to residents of Squaw Valley to see how many people support a name change. He is going to present his findings at the Board’s meeting on Tuesday.

“To them, this name is part of their identity. Not giving them an opportunity to weigh in on a proposed name change really is unfortunate,” Magsig said.

Rain Tree and supporters of the name change are suggesting the name be changed to “Yokuts Valley” because many of the tribes in the area speak that language.

“Your ancestral history and positive memories will remain, we’re just stepping into a new chapter as a community,” Rain Tree said.

Magsig said he is open to a name change and has been for years but only if residents are also for it.

Supervisors Tell Feds: Squaw Valley Wants to Keep Its Name

An unscientific survey conducted by Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig’s office indicates that 87% of Squaw Valley households prefer keeping the town’s name.However, much to the ire of many town residents, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 2022 on Sept. 23 requiring the removal of geographic features and place names in California with the word “squaw.”In...

An unscientific survey conducted by Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig’s office indicates that 87% of Squaw Valley households prefer keeping the town’s name.

However, much to the ire of many town residents, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 2022 on Sept. 23 requiring the removal of geographic features and place names in California with the word “squaw.”

In addition, U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has created a federal task force and issued an order to rename 650 geographic features across the country that include “squaw” — a word officially deemed derogatory by the federal government.

The top three recommendations other than retaining Squaw Valley were Bear Mountain Valley, taking on the name of neighboring Dunlap, and Bear Valley. A name popular among Native Americans, Yokuts Valley, was down the list.

The survey itself was a subject of controversy at Tuesday’s Fresno County Board of Supervisors meeting with many residents stating that they never received it.

According to Magsig, he used a mailing list from the 2020 Census and sent one questionnaire to every Squaw Valley household, rather than to every registered voter.

In total, 1,435 ballots were mailed to people’s homes and 635 were returned.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a little over 3,500 people reside in Squaw Valley.

“Some people asked why didn’t you send multiple ballots to each home? Because there are husbands and wives and other family members that live within a household,” said Magsig. “And quite simply, it’s impossible to know how many people live in homes because people move frequently.”

Supervisor Steve Brandau told the crowd that the survey seemed a little informal.

Magsig defended his outreach by explaining that he did what he could in a short amount of time. He also pointed out that he also gave individuals the opportunity to email him or message him on Facebook. And, he said, ballots were available at the Squaw Valley Post Office.

Groans, outbursts, interruptions, and foul language plagued most of the meeting during the public comment period about the town’s name.

Similar to a public meeting in Squaw Valley a few weeks ago, the debate continued on whether “squaw” is derogatory and why the town name should be changed.

Roman Rain Tree, who started a petition to change the name two years ago, said the issue continues to be polarizing.

“It’s time for me to fade out and put the spotlight on the residents,” said Rain Tree. “My only goal was to rename it to something else, other than the current name and that looks like it’s going to happen. So my work is really done. It’s time for the community to heal together.”

Magsig moved to pass a resolution acknowledging that the county is aware of the recent state and federal actions while also submitting the survey results.

The motion passed 3-1 with Supervisor Sal Quintero opposed and board chair Brian Pacheco absent.

Quintero pointed out that all the resolution does is let the federal government know the preferences of the community.

“Realistically, we can send this forward and the federal government says so what?” said Quintero. “The federal government wants to divide us, and yet we’re powerless to do anything.”

Brandau agreed with Quintero, recognizing that a decision has already been made for them, However, he voted for the resolution.

“I’m going to be able to support this resolution just in the beginning by telling people in Washington, people in Sacramento, that there’s a lot of dissent here in Squaw Valley,” said Brandau.

While the state bill does not take effect until January 2025, a process to review petitions to change offensive or derogatory place names from unincorporated areas is underway by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names in partnership with the California Advisory Committee.

The committee would then require Squaw Valley’s local advisory board to choose a replacement name within 180 days.

If attempts to agree on a new name fail, the bill would allow the BGN to work in partnership with California Native American tribes to establish a procedure for receiving name recommendations.

At this moment, there is not much the county can do to keep the name. However, Brandau said he would speak with the county counsel’s office and look for ways to bring the issue to the ballot.

Brandau also floated the idea of changing the county’s charter to promote more local authority over naming local locations.

“Someday these unincorporated communities are going to want an official name as they grow and I would like more power to reside in Fresno County,” said Brandau. “So I’d be very supportive of considering a ballot that would give us control.”

Mountaineer Adds Microtransit Service in Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows, CA, for 2022-23 Winter Season

Expansions to the free service include daily evening transportation between the two valleys, additional operations in Alpine Meadows, and moreMountaineer, the service that offers free, convenient winter transportation in Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows, will add new service routes and expand its operating schedule for the 2022-23 winter season. For the first time, daily evening service between Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows, four-day per week operations in Alpine Meadows, and service in Olympic Valley un...

Expansions to the free service include daily evening transportation between the two valleys, additional operations in Alpine Meadows, and more

Mountaineer, the service that offers free, convenient winter transportation in Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows, will add new service routes and expand its operating schedule for the 2022-23 winter season. For the first time, daily evening service between Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows, four-day per week operations in Alpine Meadows, and service in Olympic Valley until 2 am on New Year’s Eve and during WinterWonderGrass will be available, giving residents and resort guests more options to get around the Palisades Tahoe resort community without their car.

“For those who visit or live in Olympic Valley or Alpine Meadows, Mountaineer continues to be a popular, convenient way to get around that is good for the environment. By adding new service options, we hope to give Mountaineer users even more incentive to leave their cars behind – whether they’re hitting the slopes, or going out for dinner, drinks or shopping.”

– said Joy Doyle, Mountaineer executive director. “

This winter, Mountaineer will operate its nine-passenger, dog-friendly vans equipped with ski/snowboard racks during the following operating schedule from December 9, 2022, through April 9, 2023:

Passengers can request rides through the Mountaineer app, free in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Inter-valley transportation will be provided between the two Palisades Tahoe base areas by the new Base to Base Gondola, scheduled daily from 9 am to 4 pm this winter.

Placer County will continue to offer TART Connect free on-demand transportation in North Lake Tahoe this winter with Friday and Saturday service between Olympic Valley and Tahoe City and between River Ranch and Tahoe City from 6 pm to 11 pm. Rides can be requested through the free TART Connect app, with these routes operating between December 15, 2022, and April 9, 2023.

“It’s exciting to see the adoption of micro-transit services embraced by our regions’ guests and residents, and Mountaineer, the first in the Tahoe area, continue to expand.”

– Dee Byrne, Palisades Tahoe president and COO

Since its inception in December 2018, Mountaineer has taken over 33,000 cars off the road, and reduced Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) by over 54,000 miles. Learn more about Mountaineer at www.MountaineerTransit.org.

* Additional dates of operation within Alpine Meadows: Dec. 20-22, Dec. 27-29, 2022, and Feb. 19-23, 2023.

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