“Offensive trails are set to be renamed in the Upper Mission area of Kelowna, British Columbia, after they were decried by a jogger.
While out on a run, Carrie Karsgaard came across a sign for a trail named ‘Squaw Hollow’. Squaw is a pejorative slang term for an American Indian woman or wife.
Karsgaard said in a blog: “The closest thing I can liken it to is the n-word. It has some serious undertones with the regards to the sexualization of Indigenous women and violence towards Indigenous women. I was just surprised to see that on a local trail in a public space.” Other trail names in the network include TheRapist, Yo Mama and Cat’s Ass.
In fairness, the local riding community is in agreement with Karsgaard and has been hoping to change the names for a while – just not yet. At the moment the Mountian Bikers of the Central Okanagon (MBCO) is looking to legalise the trails and is worried changing the names might jeopardise that.”
I’ve always been particularly struck by the pervasiveness of offensively named trails in BC. Anyone care to ride Severed Dick with me? Seriously, I don’t understand who is naming these trails and how do they get away with it…
I also don’t understand how changing the names could jeopardize legalizing the trails. Seems like it could only help if the club is trying to negotiate with other user groups and land managers. Maybe they’re worried no one will know which trails they’re talking about?
Trails belong to everyone, so IMO it’s only fair to consider whether a name might be offensive. And while a name might not seem offensive when it’s first used, meaning and usage can certainly change over time.
Well, they got away with it the same way the trails got built: they didn’t ask anyone’s permission and just went out and started building. Once it started getting discovered, they carved a vulgar name in a piece of wood, nailed it to the tree at the entrance, and presto! I have a feeling that the guys who actually built these trails don’t really care what anyone thinks of the trail names. Not only are the names politically-incorrect, but the building of the trails themselves was straight-up illegal.
It seems like the MTB organization here is in a sticky situation. It might be more accurate to say that they CAN’T change the names, because they don’t actually have any jurisdiction to modify, work on, or even build these trails, since they are still illegal in the first place.
Side note: I didn’t know until today that the word “squaw” was considered offensive (although whether or not it’s offensive is debatable, according to results from a Google Search for the term). I wonder how Squaw Valley ski resort is fairing with this language shift? http://squawalpine.com/
To each their own, I don’t determine what’s offensive or not. Maybe they can use a common trail name like roller coaster or rattlesnake or something. I’d change the w to tch…Squatch Hollow, short for Sasquatch. You can modify existing print pretty easily.