Travel

Canadian cabin resort changes out-of-touch name

Canadian cabin resort changes out-of-touch name

(CNN): The alpine setting for these vacation mountain cabins is beautiful — inside Jasper National Park in the province of Alberta in the Canadian Rockies.

But for some people, the resort’s name was becoming increasingly ugly and problematic to ignore: Pocahontas Cabins.

Now this collection of cabins run by Pursuit, a hospitality company that operates properties around the world, has a new, temporary name to go with a recent upgrade: Miette Mountain Cabins. A nearby campground has also had the same name change.

The name change follows consultations with Indigenous communities with longstanding historical ties to the land that’s now Jasper National Park, according to a news release Pursuit sent CNN Travel via email, and a news release from Parks Canada.

Parks Canada said it had been discussing a new name with an advisory group of the Jasper Indigenous Forum, which represents more than 25 groups, since 2020.

Representatives from the forum said in the Parks Canada release that the change “is one small step towards truth and reconciliation in Canada.”

The problem with ‘Pocahontas’

Spirit Island in Maligne Lake at Jasper National Park. It's the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies and part of UNESCO's Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site.
Spirit Island in Maligne Lake at Jasper National Park. It’s the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies and part of UNESCO’s Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site.

The name of the famous Native American woman from the early 17th century is now sometimes used in an intentionally disparaging way that insults Indigenous peoples and degrades their cultures. The use of the name as a slur even crept its way into US national politics in 2017.

Also, Pocahontas had nothing to do with the area that became the Canadian Rockies, which was pointed out by Barry Wesley with the Bighorn Chiniki Stoney Nation in a story published by local media outlet Fitzhugh.ca.

“We felt that it was inappropriate to have that name (Pocahontas) out here as the name comes from another tribe down east, and in respect to the tribe and the person who had the name … it’d be wise just to remove that name from Jasper,” Wesley said.

Pocahontas, who was also called Matoaka and Amonute, was a member of the Powhatan people. She helped broker peace between Native Americans and English colonists in Jamestown, Virginia. She eventually married an English settler.

She did travel very far, but in the opposite direction. She and her husband went to England, where she died.

“It is important for all visitors to Jasper National Park to understand that many of the place and site names within the park were not chosen by the Indigenous people who have called these places home for millennia,” the Jasper Indigenous Forum said in the Parks Canada release.

“As a group, we encourage Canadians and international visitors to educate themselves on Canada’s brutal history towards Indigenous people.”

About the temporary name: Miette

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The name “Miette” is consistent with existing names in the region of Jasper National Park, Parks Canada said.

The campground is on Miette Road, which leads visitors to the Miette Hot Springs. The cabins are connected to both on the same road.

Parks Canada said all parties have agreed to continue discussions to find a permanent campground name that honors Indigenous cultures with connections to Jasper National Park.

“The interim renaming of Miette will allow the time needed to continue discussions to ensure community members of all ages see their culture and language reflected back on these lands of enduring significance,” said Alan Fehr, field unit superintendent of Jasper National Park.

A new look with the name change

The lodgings at Miette Mountain Cabins in Jasper National Park have been upgraded.
The lodgings at Miette Mountain Cabins in Jasper National Park have been upgraded.

Guest cabins, common areas and lodge rooms at the Miette Mountain Cabins have been upgraded recently, Pursuit said.

The renovations include 10 “reimagined Pioneer Cabins designed with contemporary yet casual mountain décor along with a redesigned main lodge lounge.”

They are about a 30-minute drive from the Jasper townsite.

“As we continue to invest in the Jasper community, we are honored to be part of a larger initiative, led by our Indigenous partners to rename this historic area,” said Richard Cooper, director of operations for Jasper Lodging by Pursuit.

“We are thankful to be able to work diligently in collaboration with our First Nation communities to help preserve such an incredible place.”

Part of a broader movement

A general view of Uluru, once popularly called Ayers Rock. A permanent ban has been put on climbing the monolith.
A general view of Uluru, once popularly called Ayers Rock. A permanent ban has been put on climbing the monolith.

A general view of Uluru, once popularly called Ayers Rock. A permanent ban has been put on climbing the monolith.

This change comes as names and presentations of sacred places, ski resorts, sports teams, products and even theme park rides have come under increasing scrutiny.

In Australia, its famous sandstone formation in the interior was known for decades as Ayers Rock. In 2002, the rock took on the official name of Uluru / Ayers Rock. But the sacred Aboriginal monolith is now often called the solo “Uluru,” including by CNN Travel.

The Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows ski resort in California changed its name to Palisades Tahoe in September 2021, acknowledging that the word “squaw” is considered a “racist and sexist slur.”

Some sports teams have been under pressure for years to come up with new names. In 2021, the Major League Baseball team the Cleveland Indians said they were changing their name for the 2022 season to the Cleveland Guardians.

Eskimo Pie decided in 2020 on a new name after it acknowledged its original name was offensive toward Indigenous Arctic communities. The chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream bar became Edy’s Pie.

Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida kept the name Jungle Cruise for its popular boat ride but overhauled the decorative themes that had controversial depictions of Indigenous people.

Disney said in 2020 a similar overhaul would be in the works for Splash Mountain, which is based on the controversial 1946 film “Song of the South.” That overhaul has yet to debut.

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