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Dalton Walker
Indian Country Today

The Canadian Football League team in Alberta known for its controversial mascot appears to be shifting directions on a name change.

The Edmonton football franchise has made an “internal decision” to change its nickname, according to a TSN report. Earlier this month, the franchise announced it was keeping the name following an "extensive yearlong formal research and engagement program with Inuit leaders and community members across Canada,” according to The Associated Press.

The change could come as soon as next week, and the shift is related to league sponsors wanting a name change, according to TSN.

The news of the potential change comes the same week the Washington NFL franchise announced it was retiring its racist name and logo and as other professional sports franchises with stereotypical Native mascot imagery remain pressured to change.

(Related article: Washington NFL team kicks out R-word)

Retired NHL player Jordin Tootoo, Inuk, said he does not object to the team’s name.

“This does not mean they should keep the name,” he said in a July 8 statement. “But, I think the discussion should be around how the Inuk people feel about it. Some might feel pride. Some might feel hurt. Either way, that is the group that should be consulted.”

The football franchise was founded in 1949.

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In a tweet, IllumiNative Executive Director Cystal EchoHawk said, “Another one down!!! Who’s next?! #TheTimeIsNow #ChangeTheName #NotYourMascot.”

The nonprofit IllumiNative is against all Native mascot imagery.

(Related article: ‘Today, we celebrate; tomorrow our fight continues’)

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Dalton Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe, is a national correspondent at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter - @daltonwalker

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