Demand Airline Respect Use of Tribal Names of Indigenous People

Target: Peter Chen, President of UNI Air Company

Goal: Improve company operation procedures and services to allow indigenous people to use their tribal names easily.

An indigenous man could not check in to his flight because he used his tribal name in his ticket. Nagao Kunaw is a young member of the Atayal tribe, the third largest Taiwanese indigenous tribe. For twenty years, the Taiwan Aboriginal People’s Movement has fought for the right of indigenous people to use their tribal names, and yet these individuals still face numerous embarrassments regarding their tribal name. The situation is like that of other minorities around the world, and we should connect in solidarity to demand change and respect.

Nagao Kunaw is a 26-year-old journalism student at the National Taiwan University in Taipei. He was traveling back to Taipei and decided to take a domestic flight. However, this ordinary trip was not possible because his ticket was booked under his native name, which is spelled with Latin alphabet letters, instead of his Mandarin name. Unable to perform a self check-in, Nagao asked for assistance from staff, and he was told that he should not have booked his ticket under his “English name.” His embarrassment was deepened as he was asked in the sequence to show “proper identification” with this “English name” so he could get on the flight. After numerous complaints, Nagao could board but was told to book tickets using his Mandarin name in the future.

Indigenous people in Taiwan are required by law also to take on a Mandarin first name and surname. The indigenous movement in the island has pushed a long fight since the 1980s to have tribal names issued on national IDs, a fundamental right finally acknowledged in 2005. The UNI Air company not only disrespected this right, but it showed an incredible lack of knowledge and sensibility. The staff that resides in the region did not seem to know that many indigenous tribes use the Latin alphabet – there is no such thing as an “English name.”

Furthermore, though the company’s president apologized, he insisted in not referring to Nagao by his tribal name. This kind of attitude and incident might seem small to those who do not face blatant oppression. However, this prevents minorities from living a normal life and restrains even their ordinary activities. Demand that the company improve its operation procedures to facilitate the use of indigenous people’s tribal names, as well as provide employee education and training especially in areas with large indigenous populations.


Dear Mr. Chen,

It has been over a decade since indigenous peoples in Taiwan were authorized to use their tribal names on their IDs. However, your company still makes it difficult for native populations to fully enjoy this fundamental right; instead they are put in uncomfortable and embarrassing situations. Recently, a young indigenous man had problems with boarding on one of your flights. Not only did your staff show an enormous lack of sensibility on dealing with this situation, but you also clearly expressed that the company is not yet prepared to embrace minorities with respect.

I demand that you implement operation procedures to facilitate the use of indigenous peoples’ tribal names, as well as provide employee education and training as soon as possible, especially in areas with large indigenous populations.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: gimbellet

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One Comment

  1. Gen Lovyet Agustsson says:

    this is unfair!

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