As tantrums go, Gill and Erlandson’s “The Battle for Chumash Identity” is a doozy. In an attempt to portray themselves as ethically superior, they falsely accuse me of arguing that scholars should adjudicate ethnic identity. Then they hypocritically proceed to do exactly what they just condemned.

They complain that Erlandson was overlooked by the Los Angeles Times as an “expert” on the history of families whose demonstrated Spanish colonial and Mexican immigrant ancestry Erlandson has promoted as “Chumash” throughout his career. As in the past, he and Gill heedlessly ignore objections from Chumash communities regarding these neo-Chumash. They conceal the concerns Chumash raised that initiated the Times’ investigation, and the sociologist of Chumash heritage who was one of three experts on neo-Chumash history cited by the Times.

The Times wisely ignored Erlandson, who has refused to familiarize himself with the evidence for nearly 40 years. He has never raised a realistic criticism or accurately summarized the evidence’s scope or content. He simply lacks the expertise. Little wonder, then, that Erlandson again resorts to deception and ad hominem attacks on his colleagues.

If this is what Gill and Erlandson consider conscientious scholarship, then the University of Oregon has a problem on its hands.


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