Efforts to change Squaw Valley’s name aren’t enough to hold it up, supervisor says
FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KGPE) – According to Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig, a desire to change the name of a community in Fresno County has gained popularity, but not one that can initiate a change.
In January, an online petition was launched to change the name from Squaw Valley to Nim Valley, citing the current name as offensive to Native Americans.
A man who identified himself as Roman Rain Tree started the petition, which has now garnered around 2,700 signatures. Around the same time, Orange Cove City Council postponed a resolution give city officials the opportunity to vote on the name change. The move left Squaw Valley business owners like Lonnie Work in confusion.
“Orange Cove is not part of us, and we are not part of it,” Work said. “We were all upset to learn that a sister city or a neighboring city had decided to get involved in our region.”
Work is the owner of Squaw Valley Realty – and his family has lived in the area for generations. In a statement over the phone, Orange Cove Mayor Victor Lopez said the resolution was brought forward by a concerned resident but was not heard by city council. Lopez said Orange Cove has no reason to change the name of a neighboring community.
The petition reads in part:
Squaw is widely welcomed and viewed by Native American and non-Native American communities as sexually offensive and derogatory … the current name perpetuates a sexualized, exploitative and demeaning narrative.
Roman Rain Tree, the organizer of the petition, could not be reached for comment. Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig, who represents Squaw Valley, says this kind of initiative needs to start within the community.
“To my knowledge, I am not aware of a lot of outreach that has taken place with residents of Squaw Valley and surrounding areas,” Magsig said. “And this is really the first step.”
Magsig says he understands that some may find the term offensive and others may not, but it is crucial to have input from the residents of Squaw Valley.
“I’m open to being a facilitator to make this discussion happen,” Magsig said. “But I’m not the type to quickly judge anything. I think this is an issue that should be investigated.