Greg Sarris was adopted. While he had learned who his biological mother was when he was 21, he did not discover who his biological father was until he was a graduate student at Stanford. His mother was a young girl named Bunny Hartman and his father a young man named Emilio Hilario, Jr. They were not married. Greg was adopted by a family named Sarris from Santa Rosa, California, which is where he grew up.
Emilio Hilario’s grandmother (Greg’s great grandmother) was a woman named Reinette Smith Sarragossa. Reinette was, in turn, the daughter of Tom Smith and Emily Stewart. Tom Smith was a well-known Indian doctor or “healer” in the Indian community of Pomo and Coast Miwok blood who lived in Sonoma County. Emily Stewart was a woman of mixed blood ancestry from the same area, as attested by several people who knew her, some of whom are still living.
Attacks on Greg Sarris’ Ancestry
STC101 sunk to a new low when it attacked the ancestry of Greg Sarris, claiming that historical records it had collected from Ancestry.com showed that Greg had no Native American blood. This is not only racist and irrelevant, as clearly stated in an editorial in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, it is incorrect. The Press Democrat editorial of February 20, 2010 states:
“Montgomery’s ersatz challenge only introduces ugly issues of race into a debate that should focus on public policy. This challenge should be withdrawn and replaced with an apology.”
No apology was ever received by the Tribe.
In an effort to stop the construction of the Tribe’s casino, STC101 posted on its website what it claims to be an accurate genealogy of Greg Sarris, supported by documents it has pulled from Ancestry.com. These documents consist of United States Census entries, voter registration documents, and California birth and death records, etc., for people with the same last name as some of the ancestors of Greg Sarris. Extrapolating from these documents, STC101 proceeds to guess about which of these long-dead people are the true ancestors of Greg Sarris. The very shaky conclusion of all this guessing is that Greg Sarris has no Indian ancestry. There are two problems with this methodology:
First, there is no direct connection between the Stewart family found in the 1870 census in Alameda County (who are listed as “white”) and the Stewart family found in the 1880 census in Humboldt County, Joseph P. Stewart and Emily B. Stewart (who are listed as “mulatto”) and the Reinette Stewart found in Los Angeles, California, in the 1900 census (who is listed as “black”), because, in addition to the racial differences, there is a 20 year gap in the records. From 1880 to 1900, there is no mention of any such person as either Reinette Stewart or Reinette Sarragossa.
The 1900 census lists someone named Reinette Stewart (listed as “black”) as a “lodger” in the household of Amanda and William Strange. The 1910 census lists Reinette Sarragossa and her husband Arthur Sarragossa (both “mulatto”) as married with two children in Los Angeles. Neither the Reinette Stewart of 1900 nor the Reinette Sarragossa of 1910 is ever listed as a child of Joseph P. Stewart, who was Emily Stewart’s husband in 1870 and 1880. The records are inconclusive about the identity of Reinette Sarragossa’s father. All we know is that Joseph P. Stewart had died by 1900, because Emily Stewart is by then a widow. There is no evidence whatsoever about who the father of either Reinette Stewart or Reinette Sarragossa was.
In order to smooth over these conflicting records, STC101 tries to connect the dots between Reinette and the Stewarts of the 1870 and 1880 census by stating that in 1880 “Reinette had not yet been born”. This is a guess, and not a fact. Then, STC101 goes on to state, regarding the “lodger” Reinette Stewart in 1910, that; “The inescapable conclusion is that Amanda’s younger sisters were living with the family.” This also is a guess, and not a fact.
Finally, the problem with the genealogy submitted by STC101 is that they did not have access to any family photographs or eyewitnesses as to who Reinette Smith Sarragossa really was. Those family photographs and the eyewitness accounts contained in the Declarations of Rita Carter and Tooch Colombo are attached below.
The Declaration of Rita Carter and the Declaration of Tooch Colombo, as well as the attached verified photographs, demonstrate beyond any doubt that Reinette Smith Sarragossa was not only Greg Sarris’ great grandmother, but that she was also the daughter of Tom Smith and Emily Stewart, and is clearly of Native American ancestry, as is her great grandson, Greg Sarris.