A boat cruises around Moosehead Lake as seen from the beach at Lily Bay State Park. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN

The owner of the Big Squaw Mountain ski resort near Moosehead Lake is resisting changing the resort’s name after three women started a petition and after a similarly named California resort removed the derogatory term from its name.

The name of the mountain where the resort is located was changed years ago, after then-Gov. Angus King signed a law requiring that the slur “squaw” be removed from all public place names. However, that law did not extend to private businesses.

Owner James Confalone told the Portland Press Herald that he has no intention of changing the name despite the petition, created by Penobscot Nation Tribal Ambassador Maulian Dana, Morgan Hynd of Warren and Sarah Bigney of Skowhegan, that is now circulating.

“Why would I ever do that?” Confalone asked in a phone interview with the Press Herald on Thursday. “What do you think the Kennedy compound in Massachusetts is called? Squaw Island. If it’s good enough for the Kennedys, it’s good enough for me. When this issue was first raised (in the early 2000s) we had 200 calls a day come into the hotel, and not one person said they wanted the name changed.”

The women who began the petition to change the resort’s name have said that the recent decision of the Squaw Valley Ski Resort in California to change its name will raise awareness of the issue.

“I love the community and the spirit there – but I’ve always been uncomfortable with the name,” Hynd told the Press Herald. “With everything going on in the country right now, white people need to stand alongside people of color in this country and fight for justice. It starts by making businesses and place names not use racial slurs. It’s not OK.”