Hilton Squaw Peak Decides Its Name Is Racist And Derogatory

This month we lost ‘Eskimo Pies’ in a renaming to Edy’s Pie. I always thought it was just cold between eastern Siberia and Alaska, hence the name. But it’s seen as derogatory.

So, too, the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort which is being renamed Hilton Phoenix Resort at the Peak though its website is not yet updated. The property operates on a franchise model, and is run by its ownership group Crescent Hotels & Resorts. According to Crescent’s CEO,

We wanted to consider the values and perspectives from our associates, guests and the community when determining what was most important in the name.

Ultimately I’m as indifferent about the change as I am about the property itself. I haven’t stayed there myself but the reviews I’ve seen over the years have generally been quite mediocre.

Two years ago the City of Austin put together a report on what streets or monument names might need to be changed, because of an association with racism or slavery. The report recommended changing the name… Austin. Stephen F. Austin, the ‘father of Texas’, believed that slavery was wrong and would destroy the country – but owned slaves himself and opposed efforts to end the practice.

By the way while the NFL Redskins will temporarily call themselves the “Washington Football Team.” I’m not sure why that’s better since George Washington himself owned over 300 slaves at the time of his death.

I don’t believe we need monuments to learn history, but I also don’t think a Jewish person owning a kosher Chinese restaurant and naming it “Genghis Cohen’s” is racist or cultural appropriation. We shouldn’t cancel Mt. Vernon or Monticello, but include slaves as part of their story. Monuments that do not glorify the Civil Wars or other barbarisms, but that do honor the full context of a place or event, serve history best I think.

There’s a lot of great things in the American story, and a lot of ugliness that’s been part of it. We need to tell the whole story. Otherwise what will Squaw Valley, California – and all the hotel properties there near Lake Tahoe – do?

Maybe my problem is really that I can’t keep up. I have a hard enough time calling Marriott’s loyalty program Bonvoy. I almost never bring myself to type “World of Hyatt” or refer to top tier elites as “Globalists.” The company that runs the ‘dining for miles’ programs’ changed its name from Transmedia to iDine and then to Rewards Network and I barely started calling them iDine. Am I just a curmudgeon?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This entry stinks Gary. You can’t keep up with Bonvoy or Glabalist so you are meh about taking the word “squaw” out of the name of a resort? Come on.

  2. Gary…for once you and I are in agreement! I still call Rakuten “Ebates” because the new name is meaningless to me. I’m with you on Hyatt…. I’m an “explorist” which I still don’t know what that means! Thats one thing I can give Marriott credit for- I’m a Platinum and have been a Platinum for years. I fly out of National in DC and can’t remember the “new” name to save my life!

    I guess the new names will take hold when all the legacy people die off in a generation or two…..

  3. If we exclude extremists on either side, even in the middle there is going to be arguments about what is or isn’t racist/sexist/offensive. You simply can’t say “Well if one person is offended you need to change it” because that makes no sense.

    It is like hand gestures. I know the one finger salute is offensive but now there seems to be so many other offensive symbols I never know what I can/can’t do.

    Like things at work. Some things are clearly racist/sexist and trying to grab someone or give someone a task simply because they are a female are clearly wrong but is a bald joke offensive? Fat joke? My thought is no. But it is offensive if everytime the heavy person walks into a meeting someone makes a joke about their weight. Then it is moving from a generic thing to a specific person thing and that is bad.

    And clearly people can take actions even though they know it is wrong. Most of us knowing what foods we should be eating but most of us don’t do it, ditto for exercise, etc.

    Personally I don’t think owning slaves at that time should cause someone to be erased from history or have things renamed, despite myself not understanding how anyone could do that. I do think those that actively promoted continuation of that policy or other disgusting policies should have statues and names renamed removed.

    But usually it is the people who scream the loudest even if a majority (yeah, lets be a democracy) view things differently, that get their way.

    I’ve been to this hotel (way back in 2011). Nice place but I usually stay in Scottsdale when I’m not living in my house (some to be sold in the hot market here).

    Regarding this specific term, I honestly don’t know but it doesn’t cause me to view people in a derogatory term. They had already renamed one of the mountains/hills from Squaw Peak to something else.

  4. Gotta side with @Larry here. Using squaw (or Redskin or other word that has traditionally been a racist slur) in the name of something is not even remotely the same as naming a city after a founding father of the country. I think that, as you say, a balance has to be found where history is not made to disappear, but is put into context, but I don’t understand how keeping racial slurs in city, company or product names falls into the same category. I don’t think that the Squaw in Squaw Valley has any historical significance, does it? It doesn’t celebrate the heroic feats of a person named Squaw, right?

  5. I’m not sure if Gary is technically a boomer, but this is the mother of all boomer takes.

    As the article you link to mentions, they renamed the resort’s namesake peak way back in 2003. If it’s not too much trouble for you, maybe you can think of Lori Piestewa dying of her combat wounds when you’re trying to decide whether it’s appropriate to call anything “squaw.”

  6. That Hilton took its name from the nearby mountain. Arizona Natives had been petitioning to get the name changed since the early 1990s, without success, because the word “squaw” has long been seen as derogatory.
    In 2003, Gov. Janet Napolitano got the name changed (somewhat controversially). The mountain was renamed after Pvt. Lori Piestewa, a Hopi woman who was the first Native American to die in combat (for the US Military).
    It’s a shame that it took this hotel another 17 years to consider changing its name when the issue became so prominent in Phoenix back then. It’s not often you see a corporation moving slower than the government.

  7. Fortunately this is just an American thing. It is totally uninportant. But it seems Americans choose to spend their time on it.
    Just give it time and most of these places will close for good, whatever their name. Just keep going on while you’re still paid

  8. That should have read “first Native American woman to die in combat (for the US Military).

  9. Gary you ask: “Am I just a curmudgeon?”

    No, you are a hack.

    I’ve read this article three times and the only point I can take it way from it is that you get confused by name changes.

  10. Wow. Never expected this defense of racist names and monuments in your blog. I read your whole post just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I’ve subscribed since 2015, but no more. Good bye.

  11. crazy PC nonsense changing names of everything in case it offends anyone….!!!!will it ever end,,in the Liberal world

  12. So, you are “indifferent” – you must be a white man. No compassion – no care about other people and how offensive the word squaw and eskimo are. Changing these names is a positive step forward toward respecting others. Your cavalier attitude is so privileged and arrogant – traveling the world sure hasn’t opened you mind.

  13. Dee, spoken like a true racist which obviously u r. And Gary, we expect no less. We r used to your right wing racist points of view

  14. This isn’t offensive solely because of cultural appropriation, the name itself is in exceedingly bad taste. You wouldn’t name a resort C*nt Valley today, but that is an equivalent translation.
    It’s far worse than your shitty tattoo that you think says something cool in Chinese.

  15. Demographics are destiny. Once the population changes, the founding stock of the country are going to be seen as the enemy. People are already calling for America to be removed from the country’s name. America was named after an Italian explorer and discoverer of the New World, Amerigo Vespucci. Everything is barbaric. We opened pandora’s box by ridding this great country of our Civil War statues. They were honorable men fighting for their country. Less than two percent of the US population owned slaves.

  16. There is a massive difference between companies changing their brand names and a derogatory name being removed (many many years late). Hilton didn’t “decide” the name was racist. It is racist. They decided to stop using a racist name for their hotel. This article is in really poor taste and has no business being on a travel/airline blog.

  17. ‘I almost never bring myself to type “World of Hyatt” or refer to top tier elites as “Globalists.”’

    I can guarantee you Alex Jones would never stay at any Hyatt!

  18. I had no idea that “squaw” is seen as derogatory by Native Americans, but since that seems to be the case, it’s certainly wise to change the name of the resort. If my “white” friends one day decide that they really prefer to be called “caucasian,” we should honor that request, too. Why be needlessly insulting?

  19. I too had no idea “squaw” was viewed as racist. I’d always assumed it was just a probably poor transliteration of an actual word from one of the Native American languages. The real problem is that once all the names are changed most people will think the whole racism problem has been solved and stop trying to actual fix the racism problem.

  20. Agree with the commentator above, Hilton didn’t decide the name was racist, the name was racist and they finally removed it. Disappointing post that didn’t need to be written. I will spend my clicks on other places on the internet. Next time you have these questions check out the myriad resources on racism and anti-racism that are easily accessible!

  21. Horrible choice in example to make a point. With respect to name changes in rewards programs, it’s both annoying and you’re a bit of a curmudgeon. With respect to the other examples, changing the name Austin for the reasons given is silly, and this can certainly go too far. But there are some instances where this is necessary. Comparing getting rid of “Squaw” or “Redskins” to changing the name Austin or World of Hyatt is ignorance from a privileged white man (I’m one myself; and have been guilty of the same type of ignorance). Surely you wouldn’t object to changing the name of a place that used the N* word in its title.

    I do completely agree with your view of how history should be honored, but represented in its entirety. The thing that struck me most about Berlin was the honest, open, and critical way in which their Nazi past was addressed in museums and the like. The reminder and critique of past mistakes seems one of the best ways of remedying them and preventing them from happening again.

  22. Lets just erase all of history. Future generations will never know about slave trades and how they shaped the country. Change Germany because it was associated with Hitler same with Egypt and the Jews. Close australia because they sent criminals there. The state of Rhode island and providence plantations , has a referendum in November to change the name to just Rhode island. The thing is when roger Williams named it he did not have a plantation nor was there any in the country at the time, nor were there any slaves… Do not change history

  23. I sat here and read all the comments before making my decision.

    The commenters expressing outrage over the hotel’s name keep attacking Gary for being white. “I say the name is racist and if you do not agree with me you are using your white privilege.”

    C’mon man. Anyone who has a real reason why the name should be changed would tell us the reason. When a bunch of racists show up and attack Gary because he is white, the one thing we can be sure of is that they do not have a better argument. How low American education has fallen.

    This is not about the name of the actual mountain, only the hotel. The world is replete with examples a place name changing, and the businesses kept their established business name. The Bombay Stock Exchange for example. The name of a hotel is the least important thing possible. Based on these comments it is apparent that this name change is frivolous and will have zero effect on the business.

  24. One thing I’ll add. I always thought it was pretty confusing that Hilton Worldwide allowed two different hotels in Phoenix to use the name “Pointe Hilton.” An overlooked part of the name change is that the hotel is going to drop the “Pointe Hilton” moniker. I’ll bet the other Pointe Hilton is happy about that.

  25. I, for one, was not attacking Gary for being white. I was making the point that, because he is white, perhaps he doesn’t fully appreciate the issue and thus his post comes off as out of touch or crass. The fact that he doesn’t view the term as derogatory, or use it in that sense, doesn’t mean it isn’t. But it also doesn’t make him a racist. This is white privilege. Not being impacted/close to racial issues, and therefore not fully understanding their depth and breadth.

    Removing the word squaw or redskin is in a different camp than Ghengis Cohen’s. Which itself is in a different camp than changing the name of a reward program. And it’s the closing paragraph which reads as drawing a comparison between all of these that highlights the issue of the post and which I believe leaves the poor taste in many’s mouth.

  26. @JosephN Hilton bought Pointe Resorts quite a while ago. Pointe was an independent resort collection in Phoenix – Pointe at Squaw Peak, Pointe at Ahwatukee, Pointe at Tapatio Cliffs. They actually used to be pretty nice properties pre-Hilton.

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