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.