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Petitions gain support for and against Esko 'Eskomos' nickname

The district hasn't said if it is considering a name change or not.
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Esko Eskomos

One of the few remaining controversial high school nicknames in Minnesota is on the debate table as thousands of people have signed petitions for and against Esko Public Schools' "Eskomos" moniker. 

A petition promoting a name change was recently created by Karin Anderson, who asked people in Esko Township and the surrounding Duluth area to support changing the nickname due to it being similar to the term Eskimo, which she says in her petition is a "racial slur used against Indigenous people." 

"Saying Eskomo is no better than Eskimo," Anderson argues, adding that the "watered-down version of the word is still offensive, not to mention that using indigenous people as a mascot is dehumanizing and racist."

"Among the civil unrest of our country, we can no longer pretend that our school’s mascot is harmless so I propose we change it to something better," Anderson added. 

According to the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the current term used in Alaska and across the Arctic is "Inuit," while 'Eskimo' is "fading from use."

This month, the NFL's team in Washington, D.C., rid its longstanding "Redskins" nickname while the Canadian Football League's team in Edmonton dropped its "Eskimos" nickname. 

"While many fans are deeply committed to keeping the name, others are increasingly uncomfortable with the moniker," Edmonton's team said. 

A competing petition that aims to keep the "Eskomos" moniker was started by Alex Bourgeault, whose petition argument is made in five words: "It really ain't that deep."

The petition to change the name has around 2,300 signatures compared to approximately 1,700 people signing the petition to keep things as is. 

The Minnesota State High School, as noted in a 2018 story by MPR, has long stood against Indian mascots. The movement has resulted in dozens of schools changing Indian-related nicknames to the point that only a handful remain, including the Sleepy Eye (Indians), Benson (Braves), and Warroad (Warriors).

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