Letter: Stop misusing information

By The Daily Illini

On Oct. 12, The Daily Illini featured an article titled, “Protesters object to national holiday honoring Columbus.” The Progressive Resource/Action Cooperative (PRC) had organized its annual Rally Against Columbus Day, which focused on the U.S. tradition of oppression, embodied locally by Chief Illiniwek and nationally by the U.S.-led war against Iraq.

In the article, the DI interviewed the president of Students For Chief Illiniwek. In defense of Chief Illiniwek, he quoted a poll about the NFL football team name Redskins. The Annenberg poll, released on Sept. 24, concluded that 90 percent of American Indians were not offended by the name “Redskins.”

Unfortunately, polls are too often misused without examining their significance. Only 768 people were included in the poll. In addition, the participants identified themselves as American Indian. By most standards, an American Indian is defined as someone who is at least 50 percent Indian genetically and is a member of a tribe recognized by the government. But for this survey, the ethnicity of the participant was self-identified, the accuracy of which is not held to any standard. Vernon Bellecourt, president of the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and the Media, commented on this poll, saying that only a small percentage of those self-identified American Indians actually fit the generally accepted criteria for defining American Indian ethnicity (http://www.washtimes.com/national/20040925-121238-9407r.htm).

So, I urge Chief supporters to stop misusing polls and actually examine them for what they are. Maybe then they will stop misusing information to further their political agenda.

Jen Tayabji

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executive director

Illinois Disciples Foundation

member of the PRC