Vail Daily columnist Richard Carnes: V.A.I.L. spells cultural change
Seeing the beautiful face of Jen Brown on Channel 9 (whose local born and bred husband, Mike, raced for the U.S. Ski Team at the 1989 World Championships) is where I first learned of “our” successful bid to host the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships.
Congratulations to John Garnsey, Ceil Folz, John Dakin and the rest of the tireless gang for their tenacity in securing this record-setting event for our valley.
But the best part, at least in my skewed eyes, is most of the credit is due to the Vail Valley Foundation.
Having said that, notice the first two words of that organization: Vail Valley. If seeing them together makes you cough up your corn flakes, then you might as well turn the page.
OK, let’s settle this superfluous dispute once and for all.
Ever hear of “Shining Mountain?”
That’s what the Ute Indians called this area for at least 100 years before a drunken Irishman named Gore played King of the Mountain and had his way. If not, the annual Duck Race could easily be held along the banks of the “Always Cold Creek,” and none of us would ever be the wiser.
Either way, for the following 100 years it was referred to as the Gore Valley.
Those wild and crazy Utes, according to folklore, gave the name “Eagle” to that other river because “it has as many tributaries as an eagle’s tail has feathers.” This was certainly their prerogative, and pretty much the process they used to name everything and everyone they saw (Two Elk Pass, Sitting Bull, Chief Running Mouth, Drinks Like Fish, etc.).
When Pete and Earl went hiking to find that perfect spot for ski runs, they did so in the Gore Creek Valley.
Looking in the latest phone book (don’t ask me, one of the yellow ones …), I find that the total business listings under “Gore Valley” is one. Under “Eagle Valley” a respectable 35. Yet under “Vail Valley” I find, beginning with Vail Valley Academy of Dance and ending with Vail Valley Security Force, 47 listings, including such luminaries as the Vail Valley Jet Center, Vail Valley Charitable Fund and, of course, the literally world-renowned Vail Valley Medical Center.
It should be painfully apparent that proper names can evolve over time to better fit cultural climates of the day.
I’m sure there are a few residents of Beijing who still call it Peking, along with a few in Istanbul that insist upon using Constantinople. Either way, people know what they mean.
So for Pete’s sake, get off those high horses a few of you feign to be riding every few years and stop pretending that the evolution of proper names is a disrespectful act toward your personal heritage.
But if you still insist upon using the phrase “Eagle Valley” even when everyone else in the room is using “Vail Valley,” just be prepared for a lot of eye-rolling and folks subtly shuffling over to the other side of the room.