The NFL is doubling down on its bad manners.
According to the Sporting News, the NFL has filed a trademark application for the Duluth Eskimos and the league apparently plans to put the name to use in a single game.
Erin Swartz, the Vikings brand and creative director, told the Duluth News Tribune the team was lobbying to wear a throwback jersey featuring the Eskimos for one of the team's games. "They're just so cool looking," Swartz said. "I will feel like I won the lottery if we get to play a game in those."
The Canadian Football League’s Edmonton team has been under pressure to change its name. Two weeks ago a tweet from the CFL News said it was changing its name to the Edmonton Empires. However, Allan Watt, a communications official with the Edmonton franchise, said the team has not decided to change its name. The CBC reports that the team has been “struggling with accusations that their team name is outdated and disrespectful.”
“This is something that's been our name since 1910,” Watt told the CBC, “and we want to make the right decisions, not quick decisions. We'd be remiss if we didn't do extensive research, if we didn't do it thoroughly and if we didn't do it in the north ... none of us should pretend to speak for people who are Inuit."
Last month McGill University in Montreal announced it was dropping the name of its men's varsity sports team, the Redmen. Suzanne Fortier, McGill's principal and vice-chancellor, said the name made Indigenous students feel alienated.
The Vikings will have to contest the Canadian trademark in order to use the uniforms. The original Duluth franchise played in 1926 and 1927.
There is an irony in the Minnesota franchise use of this mascot. When the Washington NFL franchise plays in Minnesota there are often protests with thousands of people in front of the stadium.
A post last November in The Undefeated said: ”Native American mascots are slowly disappearing from sports, but Washington’s football team might be the last to change.”
Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Follow him on Twitter - @TrahantReports
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Cover photo: Helmet worn by Minnesota Vikings safety Paul Krause in the late 1970s.
(Minnesota Historical Society)