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.
.@eskimeaux666 plays Toronto on April 17th. Canadians should show them how much they appreciate hipster bands using slurs to sell music.— tanya tagaq (@tagaq) April 14, 2017
.@eskimeaux666 you are not an Eskimo. I see you are playing Toronto. Maybe I should bring some Eskimos?— tanya tagaq (@tagaq) April 14, 2017
"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.
"We've been talking about changing the band name for a little over a year now,'' Smith said in a statement.
I want to publicly state that @eskimeaux666 and I have been communicating. They are changing their band name. This is respect. This is ❤️!— tanya tagaq (@tagaq) April 17, 2017
"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.
Brooklyn, N.Y.-based band Eskimeaux has said it will change its name after being called out on Twitter by Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq.
"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.''
Tagaq's wave of tweets comes as she pushes for more change in perceptions of indigenous people in popular culture.
"Talking to Tanya about this was what ultimately helped me make up my mind to change the band name."
"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.''
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