HASH(0xac13e4)

Tanya Tagaq pushes U.S. band Eskimeaux to change its name

Tanya Tagaq pushes band Eskimeaux to change name

TORONTO — Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq has convinced Brooklyn indie band Eskimeaux to swap out its name for one deemed more culturally sensitive.

The Polaris Prize-winner jumped on Twitter last week to call out singer-songwriter Gabrielle Smith for “using slurs to sell music.”

“If you want to use the word Eskimo you had better be an Eskimo or I’ll eat you for lunch,” Tagaq tweeted.

“I’m tired of being reduced, diminished, dismissed. Our matriarchs are better than this,” she added in another message.

The band responded within days to tell her they’d decided to rename themselves O.

“We’ve been talking about changing the band name for a little over a year now,” Smith said in a statement.

“The band name is the gateway to the project and I never set out to make it controversial, hurt people’s feelings, or bring up a kind of hardship I haven’t personally had to endure.”

Smith said she was adopted and settled on the name Eskimeaux after searching for information about her heritage, knowing only that her father was Tlingit, an indigenous group originating from the Pacific northwest coast.

“Everywhere I looked for more information the word ‘Eskimo’ was commonplace,” she added.

“Talking to Tanya about this was what ultimately helped me make up my mind to change the band name. She and I have had really different struggles, but they don’t serve to diminish one another.”

It’s not the first time the word “Eskimo” has been considered problematic in recent years.

Many indigenous groups see the term as derogatory because it was used by Europeans and said to mean “eater of raw meat.” Linguists have also suggested the name is derived from Ojibwa to mean a “netter of snowshoes.”

The word isn’t decisively considered offensive across all regions. In Alaska, for example, some groups commonly refer to themselves as Eskimos.

But indigenous peoples in Canada and Greenland — where the term was once used — have all but ruled it out as a sweeping and inaccurate generalization.

That’s why it’s become a point of contention for Tagaq, who is pushing for more change in perceptions of indigenous peoples in popular culture.

“The word Eskimo is a slur for many Inuit. The name being applied to a band by a non-Inuk person incensed me,” Tagaq explained in a statement.

“Gabrielle has taught me that people can be open and respectful when mistakes are made. I am very pleased with this outcome of the band name change and our impending friendship. Pleasant surprises.”

Others have refused to back away from using the term, including the CFL team the Edmonton Eskimos. Len Rhodes, the team’s president, said last year that he wouldn’t budge on calls for a change because the football team had been using its name for decades.

 

Follow @dfriend on Twitter.

David Friend, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Vipers get past Penticton Vees in overtime

After a slow start to the season the Vipers are now on a four-game win streak

Vernon’s best in business awarded for excellence

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce announced winners of this year’s Business Excellence Awards

Vernon students to sell breakfast bags for dry grad

W.L. Seaton’s dry grad breakfast fundraiser takes place next Wednesday morning at 4512 27 Street

Proposal for 30 affordable housing units in Vernon moves ahead

Vernon city council approved an early stage in the CMHA’s proposal at ther last meeting on Oct. 15

Nurseryland celebrates 60th by going seasonal

Swan Lake Fruit Market and Garden Centre closing for winter

ELECTION 2019: It’s so close, it could come down to who turns out to vote

Black Press Media’s polling analyst on the origins of predictive seat modelling in Canada

Summerland holds multiple events to launch festive season

Festival of Lights, Light Up the Vines and Sip ’n’ Shop will be held in late November and December

PET OF THE WEEK: Moose still needs a home

Critteraid cat wants a nice, quiet environment

Jack’s Devils beat Quinn’s Canucks 1-0 in NHL brother battle

New Jersey youngster scores first career goal against Vancouver

Penticton Vees to host 2021 Centennial Cup

It’s the first time Penticton has hosted the tournament which decides the country’s Junior A champions

Two charged after owner’s wild ride through Kamloops in his stolen truck

Crystal Rae Dorrington, 37, and Derrick Ronald Pearson, 32, facing multiple charges

Judge orders credit union’s bank records for Kelowna social worker facing theft allegations

The man is accused of negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy with Interior Savings

Leaders pour it on with rallies, boosts for candidates as campaign reaches peak

The federal election campaign has reached a crescendo

Allegations of racism lead to ministry investigation at Vancouver private school

St. George’s School was contacted over what the school describes as ‘deeply offensive behaviour online’

Most Read