Playing the Indian Card

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Edmonton E*****s

Controversy is warming up over the Edmonton Eskimos name. It is supposedly offensive or insulting to indigenous people. It is currently held offensive simply to give a sports team an aboriginal name, despite the fact that we see no problem with other ethnic groups: Boston Celtics, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Minnesota Vikings, Queen's Golden Gaels, and so forth. McGill managed a pass on their “Redmen” by claiming the reference was to Scots instead of Canadian Indians.

On top of that, “Eskimo” is commonly supposed to be pejorative. People generally think it means “cannibal.” This, however, is an old etymological error. It actually means something like “people who wear snowshoes.” Not offensive, and a good deal less troubling than the now-preferred “Inuit.” “Inuit” actually means “human being”--with the necessary implication that anyone who is not Inuit is not, in fact, human.

So the controversy is foolish.

On the other hand, I have never liked the name “Edmonton Eskimos.” I would not be sad to see it go. The problem is that Edmonton has nothing to do with Eskimos; or no more than any other Canadian city. I always had the same problem with Edmonton's “Klondike Days” festival. Edmonton is very far from where Eskimos live, and it is very far from the Klondike. This in itself is not a problem—Toronto is pretty far from where the Argonauts sailed—but Edmonton is just close enough to either to make it look like an attempt to mislead, and to steal somebody else's thunder. Is their really nothing about Edmonton itself worth celebrating? Does the city have no personality of its own?

To make the matter more difficult, it would be desirable to keep the team initials “EE.” Otherwise, a lot of added expense redesigning logos, helmets, stationery.

Edmonton Eskers?
Edmonton Elk?
Edmonton Electrons?
Edmonton Earthquake?
Edmonton Epic?
Edmonton Eco-terrorists?
Edmonton Ecdysiasts?

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