Name Changes Pending
Everyone has heard of the controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins name change. This will shift to other teams, and the Edmonton Eskimos are currently the next in line.
Do First Nations People Support the Changes?
The answers is Yes & No, so, it’s complicated.
A 2016 Washington Post poll found “9 out of 10 Native Americans said they were not offended by the ‘Redskins’ moniker”.
A UC Berkeley poll in February 2020 found that 49% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the name was offensive. That number jumped to 67% for those “frequently engaged in tribal cultural practices.”
That’s a BIG difference in numbers. Why?
The 2016 Poll was 500 people of only Native American heritage. The 2020 poll was a mix of races and conducted on the other side of the country from the team in question. Regional differences and true interest in the team seem to play a part.
Regardless of these numbers the Redskins are changing, but this does tell us a lot about Edmonton’s data.
Edmonton is not Washington DC
The Edmonton Eskimos have spent time and money surveying people in Canada’s north to get a true feel for the situation. The most recent study came back inconclusive to a name change because so many people in Canada’s north wanted to keep the name.
“…research found 78 per cent of the western Arctic Inuit oppose changing the name. That support fell to 55 per cent of Inuit in Nunavut and to 31 per cent of Inuit in the eastern Arctic.“
Just like Washington we see support near the team and it fade with distance. At 78% support in the western Arctic, which is closest to Edmonton, there is strong support for “their” team. As show in the picture above many people have no problem with the word.
Eskimos Still Changing?
Regardless of the strong support in the western Arctic for the 2nd most winning team in CFL history there is now 2 of the 12 major team sponsors leaning on the team to make a change. This essentially means that advertisers are trying to maintain good public imaging and calling the shots, and not the actual people they are trying to protect/support.
TSN has reported that the team will announce a name change next week. This seems very possible as the team is not denying the rumor as pressure grows from advertisers.
Do Real Voices Matter?
Kenneth Ruben, in Paulatuk, N.W.T., posted a message to politicians on Facebook, saying “We as ‘the real Eskimos,’ want the name to remain!!” His post has since been shared nearly 600 times.
“Nunavut has a housing crisis, so does the Northwest Territories. Our cost of food has just gone absolutely crazy. The suicide rates in both Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are among the highest in Canada.”
“I really think that these politicians should put their efforts elsewhere and concentrate on things that affect our people more than a name, a moniker on a sports franchise that has nothing to do with insulting our people,” Ruben said.
Jenna Palituq, from Clyde River, Nunavut, said Eskimo is a generational word that’s fine by her. “They’re known all over the world as Edmonton Eskimos and they are representing and making a name for the Eskimos,” Palituq said.
Erin Pameolik, from Coral Harbour, Nunavut, said she’d be disappointed if the football team changed its name. “I would be, because I’m known as an Eskimo and they’re good representation for us Inuit.”
Those are a few quotes found over the years.
Who Decides? Advertisers Apparently.
Of course there are many in the Arctic that do not support the name, especially in the East, but this is the question…..Who decides what?
Should things like this be left open to people 1000’s of miles away, the Team and it’s local fan base of impacted people, a mix of both, or some other option?
Name changes are empty actions when the people themselves are still being marginalized. Name changes are empty actions when the majority of the people impacted are supportive but advertisers are trying to get “woke money”. It’s OK to change the names, ALL OF THEM, but only if “we” really mean it and are going to do more than just slap a new logo on an old problem.
Collectible Pieces of History
With name changes abound collectors, fans, and enthusiasts will all want pieces of memorabilia for collections and galleries. Much of the online stock is very limited right now, especially hats.
Sport Check has the most amount of Eskimos gear that I can find in Canada. Amazon seems the best for the Redskins gear in America.
The Edmonton Eskimos have won the 2nd most Grey Cups in Canadian history and are an integral part of Edmonton’s “City of Champions” era. For these reasons I think collectors are going to buy up merchandise.