Published on June 14, 2014 by Amy
Gregory Michael Sarris (born February 12, 1959) is a college professor, author, producer, screenwriter, and a member and current Chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. He was chosen in 2005 to fill the Endowed Chair in Native American Studies at Sonoma State University. The Chair was endowed by his tribe.
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He was formerly the Fletcher Jones Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and a full professor at UCLA for ten years.
Sarris was born in 1952 in Santa Rosa, California. According to Sarris, his birth father was not named on the birth certificate, and he said that his birth mother claimed that the father of her child was a Mexican stable hand where she kept her horse. Sarris states that friends of his birth mother believed Emilio Hilario was his birth father. After finding the family of Emilio HIlario, Sarris began to claim that Hilario’s father, Emiliano HIlario, who was [Filipino people|Filipino], told him that his maternal great great grandparents were Tom and Emily Smith. Tom was Kashaya Pomo and Miwok. Other family members dispute this claim 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. Mary Bernadette “Bunny” Hartman, of Irish and German-Jewish descent, was his mother. He was adopted by a local couple, George and Mary Sarris.
Sarris attended local schools through Santa Rosa Junior College, and received a B.A. in 1978 from UCLA, where he also played football. He worked in Hollywood as a model and actor before going to graduate school. He earned a Ph.D. in modern thought and literature at Stanford University in 1988, and returned to UCLA to teach in 1989.
He co-produced an HBO movie, Grand Avenue with Robert Redford in 1996.
Sarris serves as Chairman of Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, a federally recognized Indian tribe with offices in Rohnert Park, California.