What’s in a name?

Our longtime customers may already know that we only just recently changed the name of our store, from the original Factory Bike to Squaw Bikes. The intention was to use a name that was more associated with the place, to help better identify the shop, and make it easier for new customers to find us and, well…it’s been working.

But recent events and discussions have helped to inform and educate us about the origins of the word “squaw”, which has been used as a landmark namesake here for 160 years, most famously at the iconic ski area that inspired so much of our current community to make this their home. The conversation between the ski area management and the local Washoe Tribe has revealed, to many of us for the first time, the racist and derogatory nature of the word and the insult it still carries to the Native Americans it was used to describe. For those of us who thought of our current use as honoring or endearing, it turns out that we were misled, or mistaken, or both.

Alterra Mountain Group and our own Public Service District (now the Olympic Valley PSD and Fire Dept) have both announced that they will no longer be using the name, and we think that it’s a step in the right direction.  However “traditional” the use of the word squaw may have been to some of the area’s settlers, we think that it’s inappropriate to continue that use ourselves, and we hope to encourage our friends and neighbors in their consideration of how we view race and racial discrimination.

So we’re changing our name again! We like the new one even better, and we think you’ll still find us. For a history of the name “Truckee”, click here! For an interesting and informative discussion about the Squaw Valley name change, read the proposal by the OVPSD here.

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