Greg Sarris

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Gregory Michael Sarris (born February 12, 1952) is an accomplished writer and academic. Along with Sherman Alexie, Paula Gunn Allen, and Leslie Marmon Silko, Sarris is a notable contributor to the second wave of what literary critic Kenneth Lincoln has called the Native American Renaissance.[1] Sarris’ best known work, Grand Avenue, is a linked collection of short stories about contemporary Native American life. Grand Avenue is a real place located in Santa Rosa’s South Park district and the story is based on his own life. Sarris served as co-executive producer of the 1996 HBO miniseries adapted from Grand Avenue. The two part mini-series was shot entirely on location in Santa Rosa, California not far from where Sarris grew up.

Childhood[edit]

Greg Sarris was adopted shortly after his birth by a middle-class white couple, George and Mary Sarris, who believed they could not have children. Shortly after they conceived the first of three biological children, which complicated life at home with his alcoholic father. Sarris was frequently the target of his stepfather’s abuse. In an effort to keep him out of harm’s way, he was sent to live with various white and American Indian foster families. At the age of 12, Sarris met Pomo basket weaver Mabel McKay, who taught him about American Indian customs and tradition. According to Sarris, McKay’s guidance provided him with a sense of purpose.[2]

Education[edit]

After graduating from Santa Rosa High School in 1970, Greg Sarris attended Santa Rosa Junior College. In 1977 he graduated summa cum laude with a BA in English from UCLA. He went on to complete his graduate studies at Stanford University, earning a Masters degree in creative writing in 1981 and a Ph.D. in Modern Thought and Literature in 1989.[3]

Career[edit]

Ancestry[edit]

Greg Sarris’ mother, seventeen year old Mary Bernadette “Bunny” Hartman, of German, Jewish and Irish descent, came from a wealthy family. She was sent to Santa Rosa to deliver her child, which was not uncommon for unwed mothers at the time. She was inadvertently given the wrong blood type in a transfusion after giving birth, and died shortly thereafter. Sarris’ father was not named on the birth certificate. It wasn’t until the early 1980s as a graduate student at Stanford that Sarris learned Emilio Arthur Hilario, of Filipino, Miwok and Pomo descent, was his biological father. According to Sarris, he learned the identity of his great great grandparents from his grandfather, Emiliano Hilario. Hilario’s grandmother, Reinette Smith Sarragossa, was the daughter of Emily Stewart, a woman of mixed blood ancestry, and Tom Smith, a well-known healer of Pomo and Coastal Miwok blood.[9] Official government records however, indicate that Sarris' maternal great great grandparents were Joseph Peter Stewart, a barber from Pennsylvania and Emily B. (Skanks) Stewart of Maine. Both were African-American. The family has been traced back to 1799.

Marilee Montgomery and Stop the Casino 101 Coalition dispute Greg Sarris’ claim to have Pomo and Miwok blood.[10] Sarris was at the forefront of the controversial Graton Resort and Casino project which was strongly opposed by Stop the Casino 101 Coalition.

Activism[edit]

In the early 1990's, Sarris worked to have the Coast Miwok and Pomo Native Americans gain recognition as a tribe. Greg co-authored the Graton Rancheria Restoration Act, 25 U.S.C. §1300n (Act) with California Indian Legal Services.[11] President Clinton signed the Act into law on December 27, 2000, officially granting the Tribe status as a federally recognized tribe.[12] The Act mandated that the Secretary of the Interior take land in the Tribe's aboriginal territory of Marin or Sonoma Counties into trust as the Tribe's reservation.

Published works[edit]

Novels
  • Watermelon Nights: A Novel, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998.
Short story collections
  • Grand Avenue, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1994.
  • (Editor and contributor) The Sound of Rattles and Clappers: A Collection of New California Indian Writing, University of Arizona Press (Tucson, AZ), 1994.
Nonfiction
  • Keeping Slug Woman Alive: A Holistic Approach to American Indian Texts, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1993.
  • Mabel McKay: Weaving the Dream, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1994.
  • (Editor, with Connie A. Jacobs and James R. Giles) Approaches to Teaching the Works of Louise Erdrich, Modern Language Association of America (New York, NY), 2004.
Film and Theater
  • Grand Avenue (television miniseries; based on his short story collection), Home Box Office, 1996.
  • Wrote script for Mission Indians, a play directed by Nancy Benjamin and Margo Hall, 2001.
  • Co-produced, advised, and was featured in a sixteen part series on American literature for public television called American Passages.

Achievements[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lincoln, Kenneth. "Greg Sarris." Native American Writers of the United States. Ed. Kenneth M. Roemer. Detroit: Gale, 1997. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 175. Literature Resource Center. Web. 21 May 2016.
  2. ^ "Greg Sarris." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2007. Literature Resource Center. Web. 28 May 2016.
  3. ^ Lincoln, Kenneth. "Greg Sarris." Native American Writers of the United States. Ed. Kenneth M. Roemer. Detroit: Gale, 1997. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 175. Literature Resource Center. Web. 21 May 2016.
  4. ^ "Greg Sarris." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2007. Literature Resource Center. Web. 28 May 2016
  5. ^ "Greg Sarris." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2007. Literature Resource Center. Web. 28 May 2016
  6. ^ Wasp, Jean. World Class Author, Screenwriter Greg Sarris Named to Native American Endowed Chair at SSU. Sonoma State University News Center. April 8, 2005. Web. 28 May 2016.
  7. ^ Lincoln, Kenneth. "Greg Sarris." Native American Writers of the United States. Ed. Kenneth M. Roemer. Detroit: Gale, 1997. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 175. Literature Resource Center. Web. 21 May 2016.
  8. ^ "Tribal Government" Graton Rancheria.n.p.n.d.Web.28 May 2016.
  9. ^ http://greg-sarris.com/. n.p. n.d. Web. 28 May 2016
  10. ^ Mason, Clark. Casino critic challenges tribal leader's Indian heritage. The Press Democrat. February 17, 2010. Web. 28 May 2016.
  11. ^ Title XIV Graton Rancheria Restoration. uscode.house.gov. n.p. 27 Dec 2000. Web 28 May 2016.
  12. ^ Federal Register Notice at 74 FR 40219. August 11, 2009. Web. 28 May 2016.
  13. ^ Lincoln, Kenneth. "Greg Sarris." Native American Writers of the United States. Ed. Kenneth M. Roemer. Detroit: Gale, 1997. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 175. Literature Resource Center. Web. 21 May 2016.
  14. ^ Lincoln, Kenneth. "Greg Sarris." Native American Writers of the United States. Ed. Kenneth M. Roemer. Detroit: Gale, 1997. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 175. Literature Resource Center. Web. 21 May 2016.
  15. ^ Lincoln, Kenneth. "Greg Sarris." Native American Writers of the United States. Ed. Kenneth M. Roemer. Detroit: Gale, 1997. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 175. Literature Resource Center. Web. 21 May 2016.
  16. ^ Lincoln, Kenneth. "Greg Sarris." Native American Writers of the United States. Ed. Kenneth M. Roemer. Detroit: Gale, 1997. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 175. Literature Resource Center. Web. 21 May 2016.
  17. ^ Lincoln, Kenneth. "Greg Sarris." Native American Writers of the United States. Ed. Kenneth M. Roemer. Detroit: Gale, 1997. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 175. Literature Resource Center. Web. 21 May 2016.

References[edit]

  • Lincoln, Kenneth. "Greg Sarris." Native American Writers of the United States. Ed. Kenneth M. Roemer. Detroit: Gale, 1997. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 175. Literature Resource Center. Web. 21 May 2016.
  • "Greg Sarris." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2007. Literature Resource Center. Web. 28 May 2016.
  • Wasp, Jean. World Class Author, Screenwriter Greg Sarris Named to Native American Endowed Chair at SSU. Sonoma State University News Center. April 8, 2005. Web. 28 May 2016.
  • "Tribal Government" Graton Rancheria.n.p.n.d.Web.28 May 2016.
  • greg-sarris.com. n.p. n.d. Web. 28 May 2016.
  • Mason, Clark. Casino critic challenges tribal leader's Indian heritage [1]. The Press Democrat. February 17, 2010. Web. 28 May 2016.
  • Title XIV Graton Rancheria Restoration. uscode.house.gov. n.p. 27 Dec 2000. Web 28 May 2016.
  • Federal Register Notice at 74 FR 40219. August 11, 2009. Web. 28 May 2016.
  • Sarris, Greg. Mabel McKay: Weaving the Dream Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994. ISN 0-520-20968-0.

Further reading[edit]

  • Elvira Pulitano, Toward a Native American Critical Theory. 2005. Sarris is one of six authors whose work is surveyed.
  • Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 175: Native American Writers of the United States, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1997.
  • Here First : Autobiographical Essays by Native American Writers. First American ed. (New York), 2000.