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Squaw Valley Is No More After Feds Give It a New Name



The federal government has given the Fresno County community of Squaw Valley a new name — Yokuts Valley. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)
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Squaw Valley in Fresno County will now be known as Yokuts Valley, at least to the federal government.

David Taub

Politics 101

The Department of Interior announced Thursday that the Board of Geographic Names voted to remove “Squaw” — considered an offensive and outdated slur against Native American women — from seven place names, including Squaw Valley.

“Words matter, particularly in our work to ensure our nation’s public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming to people of all backgrounds,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a news release. “Together, we are showing why representation matters and charting a path for an inclusive America.”

Last year, the federal government removed the “Squaw” name from several physical features, such as creeks and bluffs.

The effort to change the name of the local unincorporated community came from Native American activists. It was met with resistance from residents, as well as without a consensus on if there should be a change, and what the new name should be.

By the way, Yokuts translates to “people.”

Last year, Gov. Newsom declared Sep. 23 as Native American Day and signed several bills addressing issues relating to California’s native communities. One mandated a name change for Squaw Valley.


Squaw Valley residents debate the name change in September 2022. (GV Wire File)

Also in Politics 101 …

  • Hurtado named state Senate ag chairwoman.
  • Longtime GOP leader steps down.
  • How a Mendota seat will be filled.
  • New campaign finance law SB 1439 begins.

Hurtado Names as Ag Committee Head

State Sen. Melissa Hurtado, D-Bakersfield, will serve as chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“As a daughter of immigrant agricultural workers, I am proud to be the first Latina to lead this committee. When I think about agriculture, I think about the hard work and long days my parents endured, but I also think about the many opportunities employers provided them with—opportunities that allowed them to fulfill the American Dream,” Hurtado said in a statement.

Andreas Borgeas, a Fresno Republican, had the unique distinction of serving as the committee chair last year, in light of the fact that Democrats firmly control the chamber. Borgeas is no longer a member of the Senate, declining to run for re-election.

Hurtado is still battling a recount effort after winning the election by 22 votes. Republican David Shepard of Porterville filed for the recount, which is ongoing in Kern County. Of the four counties recounting, only eight net votes have benefited Shepard — not enough to overturn the results.

Vanderhoof Out As Fresno GOP Chief

Fred Vanderhoof has resigned as chairman of the Fresno County Republican Party after 12 years.

“We just felt it was time to let some of the younger ones step up,” Vanderhoof said. “We’re excited about the future.”

Liz Kolstad was selected as the new leader this week.

Vanderhoof plans to remain active in party politics, just no longer as the local leader.

The chair is selected by the membership of the party’s central committee.

Fresno County GOP chairman Fred Vanderhoof has resigned from his seat to give someone else a try. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Mendota Will Appoint Vacant Council Seat

The Mendota City Council voted to fill a vacancy among its ranks by appointment. The city council voted on Tuesday to appoint a member to the spot last held by Rolando Castro. Police arrested Castro last month on domestic violence charges. He resigned a few days later.

The city council will take applications from eligible residents through Jan. 20. Public interviews and an appointment are scheduled for Jan. 24.

Because Castro was just elected in November, the person appointed will stand for a special election in November 2024. The winner of that race will fill the remaining two years of the term.

The other option was to wait for an election to fill the seat this coming November.

SB 1439 Enforcement Begins

The first week of meetings under a new campaign finance disclosure law saw the Clovis City Council acknowledge the new rule. However, neither the Fresno City Council nor the Fresno County Board of Supervisors took steps to publicly recognize SB 1439.

The law, which took effect Jan. 1, requires locally elected officials to disclose if they have received campaign contributions of $250 from any entity seeking a permit, entitlement, or license. Competitive contracts, and labor or personnel deals are exempt.

An elected leader would either need to return the money or recuse him or herself.

On the Clovis agenda, there was a reminder for councilmembers to declare a conflict of interest.

“Councilmembers should consider recusal if a campaign contribution exceeding $250 has been received from the project proponent (developer, applicant, agent, and/or participants) since January 1, 2023 (Government Code 84308),” the Clovis agenda disclosure read.

Clovis also had a presentation from its city attorney Scott Cross about the new rules and other transparency items that officials should heed.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email