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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

From the Lompoc Record:

Chumash demand Marshall resign

By Erin Carlyle Staff Writer


Local Chumash tribal leaders are calling for Santa Barbara County 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall's resignation due to comments she made in a book released last year and threatening to sue the county if she does not step down.

Vincent Armenta, chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, called Marshall's remarks "racial slurs" and compared them to former Alabama Governor George Wallace shouting "segregation forever" in the 1960s.

"She's basically done the same thing," Armenta said.

"Our attorneys sent a letter requesting a public apology, a written apology and a resignation of Gail. If that doesn't happen, we are going to (sue)," Armenta said. "They do it immediately or we will take the necessary legal action."

Marshall, who was home sick Wednesday, did not return calls but sent a press release explaining her remarks and apologizing to any group or individual that might have been offended.

"It is most unfortunate that the tribe continues to play the race card," the statement reads. "I have no doubt the quotes cited in the book were taken out of context by the tribe."

Marshall is quoted in "New Capitalists: Law, Politics, and Identity Surrounding Casino Gaming on Native Land," by UCSB Professor Eve Darian-Smith, which was published in September.

Among the comments Marshall makes about the tribe during a May 2002 interview quoted in the book are:

# "The other thing is that these are not real sophisticated people, and I want to say that as nicely as I can. And I want to say that, prior to my involvement as an activist in the community, I wasn't very sophisticated on community impacts, and what things meant, what the long-term reaction was, but I'm much more educated and I do understand. But they are not only uneducated to the actions and reactions to the actions, but they don't want to be educated. You know, they've all got brand new trucks and lots of money; they don't have to be. They're thumbing their nose at everybody."

# "They have, you know, taken up a really beautiful legacy of basketry and (tomol) building, and really interesting lifestyles and sort of erased it with one fell swoop. I'm not sure how it's going to affect their generations to come, but I have a feeling it's going to be very negative. Because when you get $300,000 a year for sitting on the couch watching a Lakers game, not working, you model that lifestyle to the next generations. I'm not sure what it's going to be like. They'll have the money but I wonder what else."

Armenta said he was shocked that Marshall would make such statements publicly, but he was not surprised by Marshall's feelings. The supervisor has had a rocky relationship with the tribe for years.

Marshall acknowledged in her statement that she has "taken issue with the way the tribe has refused to work with the local government or the community; refused to take direct responsibility for mitigation of their massive development."

"When I refer to the level of sophistication and education of the tribe, I refer strictly to their understanding of how local governments are funded. This is the educational process that was difficult to make the tribal government understand," the statement reads.

Marshall, who is retiring, has just 10 months left in her term. She will be replaced by Los Olivos vintner Brooks Firestone in January.

"I don't believe she even belongs in the position for the next nine or 10 months, she needs to go now. She's a disgrace to Santa Barbara County," said Armenta. "I want an apology from the entire board."

Armenta said he's hopeful relations with the tribe will improve once Firestone takes office, adding that Firestone and Slick Gardner were the only candidates to reach out to the tribe during the campaign.

In addition to requesting her resignation, the tribe has asked the county Board of Supervisors to remove Marshall from the Community Benefits Committee, which distributes money the Chumash tribe contributed to the state's Special Distribution Fund.

Darian-Smith said she was not ready to discuss the situation Wednesday.

Some responses to Marshall's remarks
From "Marshall Refuses to Resign" in the Santa Maria Times, 3/10/04:

Marshall responded to the 22 speakers -- the majority of whom denounced her comments -- by reading a prepared statement.

"I apologize to any who found some of my language offensive -- it certainly was not intended to offend," Marshall said.

"The significant political opposition and spending by the Chumash Tribal leaders against me suggests that their seeking my resignation has everything to do with politics and little to do with quotes appearing in a book," Marshall continued.

She also took issue with the thesis of Darian-Smith's book, which she said characterizes opposition to the Chumash Casino as primarily founded in racism.

"How can we conduct dialogue in our community if any statements simply questioning some of the tribe's casino activities are characterized as anti-Chumash or racist?" Marshall said.

Last week, Marshall issued a written statement that the remarks had been taken out of context.

"There is no context, none whatsoever, where racist speech can be tolerated. That's what it was, that's what it is. You should resign," said Larry Stidham, an Escondido-based attorney for the tribe.

From "Stereotypical Behavior and Swastikas" by John Lankford. In the Lompoc Record, 3/14/04:

Marshall, along with a few others in the valley, have fought the tribe on every step of its journey from shack-dwelling poverty to casino-owning affluence. In fact, Marshall seems to think tribal members spend all their money on fancy pickups and all their time eating bon-bons, sitting on the couch watching Lakers games, and that maybe they aren't up to speed intellectually with her kind of folks.

After Marshall's comments were publicized, tribal members accused her of racism. The tribe's reaction was swift and decisive, and included a letter to the Board of Supervisors demanding an apology and that Marshall resign, which at last week's board meeting she declined to do.

Some skeptics have questioned whether Marshall's comments were truly racist. They certainly were stereotyping, which can be a broader form of racism. They were breathtakingly insensitive, considering Marshall lives in the same community with many of the tribe's members, and her garden goodies business benefits directly from the influx of people seeking casino entertainment.

I've been called all kinds of things. My personal favorites are "witless and immature" and "Chamber of Commerce toady." I could plead the Fifth but why not just cop to the crimes.

Racism generally is easy to spot. The tennis magazine, for example, has its four white players grimacing with effort, while the two black players' faces are obscured by crudely designed swastikas. That seems a fairly clear message, don't you think?

I can't say for sure that Gail Marshall is a racist. I've met her a few times and she seems like a reasonable, friendly person. But the things she said about the Chumash being shiftless and under-educated are just insensitive and thoughtless.

At the luncheon, I discussed this with a tribal member who worked several jobs to put herself through graduate school at Stanford, who doesn't drive a pickup and is ambivalent about the Lakers. She just smiled.

From "Flawed Apology Shows Marshall Doesn't Get It" by Steve Corbett. In the Santa Maria Times, 3/14/04:

Instead of using the day to take back words that cut deep into the spirit of a tribe with whom she persistently disagrees, the elected official read from a dull and defensive prepared statement.

Marshall's flawed apology dripped with conceit.

You don't have to be Chumash to feel the sting of Marshall's insensitivity.

You don't have to live on a reservation to know that the supposedly liberal supervisor he lashed out in a way that her political supporters would never tolerate in others.

Yet, few of Marshall's political peers or contributors have been forthcoming in their public denunciation of her insults.

Many good citizens who are normally quick to defend attacks on people of color were noticeably absent at last week's meeting. Those who showed up seemed to tone down their words for Marshall's benefit.

No reason exists to rehash the exact words and phrases attributed to Marshall -- words are phrases she has never denied. Ample reason does exist, however, to stress that Marshall would have never uttered her hateful diatribe about members of any number of other groups that continue to suffer bigotry, violence and oppression.

Nor would Marshall's closest advisers and supporters have ignored the use of these hurtful stereotypes had they been used by someone at the other end of the political spectrum.

Marshall's regular critics understandably have used her dilemma to boost their claim that they were right all along.

That's not the point.

Marshall's crass characterizations of the Chumash debase the values of anyone who believes in equity and social justice -- regardless of their politics.

Even the most strident opponents of casino gambling and Chumash public policy can recognize that Marshall owes the tribe more than a flat apology.

Marshall's accusing the tribe of playing the "race card" was equally inappropriate.

If they played it, she dealt it.

More press coverage of Marshall's remarks
Chumash:  Board Should Ask Marshall to Resign Over Comments  (letter to the editor, Santa Barbara News-Press, 3/3/04)
Putting County on New Course Sooner Is Better  (Santa Maria Times, 3/7/04)
Marshall to Quit Gaming Panel  (Santa Barbara News-Press, 3/8/04)
Chumash Turn Up Heat on Marshall; Tribe Demands that Supervisor Resign  (Santa Barbara News-Press, 3/9/04)
Chumash Call for Santa Barbara Country Supervisor's Resignation  (Los Angeles Times, 3/10/04)
Marshall Refuses to Step Down; Supervisor Suggests Chumash Opposition May Be Politically Motivated  (Santa Barbara News-Press, 3/10/04)
Gail Marshall Must See It's Time to Go; Our Opinion  (Santa Barbara News-Press, 3/10/04)
Marshall Refuses to Resign  (Santa Maria Times, 3/10/04)
Tribe Is Owed an Apology  (letter to the editor, Santa Maria Times, 3/10/04)
Chumash: Marshall Flap Threatens Ties to County  (Santa Barbara News-Press, 3/11/04)
Editorial: Marshall Plan All Just Attacks; County Residents Deserve So Much Better From Our Elected Representatives  (South Coast Beacon, 3/11/04)
Words Break Bones; Marshall's Inflammatory Comments Spur Chumash Ire  (Santa Barbara Independent, 3/11/04)
Marshall Shows Her True Colors  (letter to the editor, Santa Maria Times, 3/12/04)
Marshall Rejects Resignation Call  (Goleta Valley Voice, 3/12/04)
Money Talks, Marshall Walks; Money Motivates Attacks on and Defense of the Santa Ynez Chumash  (Santa Maria Sun, 3/12/04)
Some Have Last Word on Freedom of Speech; County Commentary  (Santa Barbara News-Press, 3/12/04)
Stereotypical Behavior and Swastikas  (Lompoc Record, 3/14/04)
Why Should the Chumash Reach Out; Voice From Santa Barbara  (Santa Barbara News-Press, 3/14/04)
Flawed Apology Shows Marshall Doesn't Get It  (Santa Maria Times, 3/14/04)
Gail Marshall: Always Shifting the Blame  (Santa Maria Times, 3/18/04)
Professor Advised to Avoid Media  (Santa Barbara News-Press, 3/19/04)
Author of Tribal Gaming Study Clarifies Stance on Interviews  (Santa Barbara News-Press, 3/20/04)
Official's Comments on Chumash Revive Old Wounds in Santa Ynez  (Los Angeles Times, 3/23/04)

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