Our View: Mascot name change is inevitable now
May 26, 2023
The writing is on the wall, as plain as the nickname Eskomos and accompanying igloo are on the school walls, floors and uniforms of Esko sports teams. The state has spoken, and nicknames appropriating terms regarding Native peoples are no longer allowed under statute signed into law this past legislative session.
The Esko school board and administration, after continued queries about the use of the Eskomos nickname, has correctly responded that it will take up the nickname question after this school year. The district doesn’t really have a choice now. And it is the right thing to do. Times change, and so should a district that wants to show students how to do the right thing, especially when it comes to name appropriation.
In the 1940s, “Eskomos” was deemed a clever take on “Eskimos,” a term used for Native people in what is today’s state of Alaska. It has since been seen as a slight to Native people. The Esko nickname came with some ugly caricatures used as mascots at one time. The district has distanced itself from that past, and has even worked to reduce the use of the igloo with the name. But the nickname, and the igloo, dominate the iconography at the school. It will be a costly endeavor to change things out.
But it will be the right thing to do. For those admonishing the change, remember a few things. Esko was once known exclusively as Lincoln High. It then went by the name Thomson until the 1940s. Esko, and the accompanying nickname, have been a part of only the district's nomenclature tradition.
We propose that people get involved in a quest for a new nickname. It should be a community effort.
Let the imagination run wild. Have fun with it.
Three years ago, when a petition was circulating about excising the nickname, it was hinted on Pine Knot News pages that perhaps “Sisu” would be a good name, given the Finnish founders in the Esko area. The football teams already have the term emblazoned on helmets.
There are so many possibilities.
Allow us to extol.
How about the Alexes and Evas, for the proprietors of the Esko’s Corner store that eventually led to the Esko name, despite it being only a crossroads in Thomson Township, still not an official city. The teams that bore “Thomson” on their jerseys were known as the Tommies. Or maybe the J. Edgars, the Thomson for whom the township is said to be named after.
Or how about the Abes, or the Lynx, in a nod to the Lincoln High name.
Alliteratively? The Eels. The Eskers. Escargot.
If the colors remain, why not Bluegolds, or Blues?
Geological? The Magnetics, after the anomaly found in the township.
Or maybe the 55ers, in an homage to the 1955 basketball team that started the strong sports tradition at the school by making it to the state tournament.
Finding a new nickname should be an exercise in school spirit. It shouldn’t be a battle over whether to do it or not. The name will be changed, and we’d like to see the community rally around that reality.