Eskomos no more: Esko school board to abandon name

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Teams with Esko Public Schools are playing their last season as Eskomos, as a national conversation around what we call our sports teams makes it to the Northland. At a school board meeting Monday night, a decision was made to abandon the name which has not changed in decades.

The Minnesota State High School League has released a list—which included the Eskomos–of Minnesota high schools which may fall under the provision last month.

“Today, the Esko Board of Education declares its intent to comply with new Minnesota law prohibiting the use of Native American mascots, nicknames and logos by Minnesota school districts. Effective June 30, 2023, Esko Public Schools discontinues the official use of “Eskomos” and its associated igloo to represent the District. Esko Public Schools will institute necessary changes to facilities and other aspects of school representation to comply with the September 1, 2025 statutory deadline. Any further decisions regarding this matter will be determined by the Board of Education and district administration. Effective June 30, 2023 and until or if a replacement mascot is selected, Esko teams will be known as The (insert sport/activity) Team from Esko, Minnesota or The Esko (insert sport/activity) Team.”

Esko public schools

In May, the Minnesota Senate passed the Education Finance bill, which includes a provision prohibiting the use of Native American names, symbols and images that refer to American Indian tribes, people, customs or traditions by Minnesota School Districts. Districts in Minnesota which use Native American names, symbols or images and would like to continue doing so, are permitted to if they receive permission from all eleven tribal nations in Minnesota.

The change will go into effect June 30th, 2023, at which point Esko Public Schools will no longer be referred to as ‘Eskomos,’ nor will an igloo be used to represent the district.

An Esko alumni shares her opinion on the school board’s decision to abandon the name.

“My thoughts are, you know, why not change it? If we’re offending certain groups of people, we should change it,” said Cindy Peterson, Owner of Trapper Pete’s Steakhouse and Saloon in Cloquet. “A lot of the groups now are, you know, the Esco SISU. You know, a lot of the jerseys have SISU on there. And that stands for like strength and determination. Finland has a lot of roots around here and that’s where the SISU name came from. It’s a Finnish name, and whether it’s academics or sports that describes Eskimos either way. Whether it’s the Eskimo Eskimos or Esko SISU or, you know, maybe it’s Lincoln High School.”

For the time being, Esko sports teams will be referred to by sport. For example, Esko’s high school football team will be referred to as the Esko football team.