The Washington Redskins are not the only professional football franchise that has come under fire for their nickname. In the CFL, the Edmonton Eskimos have faced similar criticism.
The term “Eskimo,” which is used to describe a few different groups of indigenous people in the Northern region that encompasses Alaska, Northern Canada, Greenland, and parts of Siberia. The term is generally seen as outdated and offensive, and the governments of Canada and Greenland no longer use it. The preferred term for members of those communities is “Inuit.”
On the same day that the Washington Redskins released a statement that tacitly acknowledged that a change needs to come, the Edmonton Eskimos are set to keep their controversial name. The team announced that the decision comes after “an extensive year-long formal research and engagement program with Inuit leaders and community members across Canada.”
Per the Associated Press, the Eskimos franchise had discussions with a number of tribes across the country. In those discussions, they said there was no “consensus” over the issue. As a result, the name is staying.
— Edmonton Eskimos (@EdmontonEsks) July 3, 2020
“The consistent feedback was a desire for more engagement with the club,” the team’s statement says. “There were a range of views regarding the club’s name but no consensus emerged to support a name change. The club has therefore decided to retain its name.”
Just last month, the team name issue was reignited. After the team released a statement condemning racism following the death of George Floyd, a number of prominent Inuit voices called for the team to change the name, including member of Parliament Mumilaaq Qaqqaq and artist Tanya Tagaq.
The injustices for individuals that are racialized is horrible. I stand with our black friends across the boarder. If you really “seek to understand” start by changing your team name. Stop feeding into stereotypes and offensive names. We are NOT a mascot. – Nunavut’s Inuk MP
— Mumilaaq Qaqqaq (@MumilaaqQaqqaq) June 1, 2020
This is what we mean. Is THIS honouring us @EsmontonEsks? https://t.co/ZaWXQn5Mea
— tanya tagaq (@tagaq) July 4, 2020
Qaqqaq isn’t accepting the “lack of consensus” explanation, given the large portion of her community that does feel strongly about the issue.
“Canada’s Inuit community” – one community? What program? Conducted by who WITH who exactly? The fact that there was NO CONSENSUS means CHANGE THE NAME. I look forward to hearing from you as the member of parliament for 25 of 47 Inuit Nunangat communities
— Mumilaaq Qaqqaq (@MumilaaqQaqqaq) July 3, 2020
In the U.S., there are already various options being floated for the replacement of the Redskins name. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins supports the popular “Redtails” name, which honors the World War II hero Tuskegee Airmen. A name change may reportedly come before the 2020 season.
The MLB’s Cleveland Indians haven’t felt the same level of pressure that the Redskins have for years now, but they are also set to explore their own name change.
While the Eskimos name may be intact for now, it may only be a matter of time for that franchise as well.