Greg Sarris was born and raised in Santa Rosa, California. After graduating from Santa Rosa High School in 1970, he attended Santa Rosa Junior College, which prepared him to obtain his Bachelor’s Degree at UCLA. Graduating from UCLA in 1977 summa cum laude, Greg then went on to complete his graduate studies at Stanford University, earning two Master’s degrees in record time.
While working as a teaching assistant and doctoral candidate at Stanford, Greg was awarded the prestigious Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching, which is an award that is generally only given to full professors. Once Greg attained his PhD in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford in 1989, he worked as a full professor of English at UCLA, teaching American and Native American Literature, and Creative Writing from 1989 until 2001.
From 2001 to 2005 Greg then went on to become the Fletcher Jones Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at Loyola Marymount University. And from 2005 to present, Greg has held the Graton Rancheria Endowed Chair in Writing and Native American Studies at Sonoma State University.
Greg Sarris has published notable books, including; Keeping Slug Woman Alive: A Holistic Approach to American Indian Texts (1993), a widely anthologized collection of essays; Grand Avenue (1994), Greg’s highly acclaimed and awarded collection of short stories that was adapted for an HBO Miniseries of the same name, co-executive produced by Robert Redford. One of the most recent books by Greg Sarris, Watermelon Nights (1999) was widely celebrated and received rave reviews. It was even adapted for a play by the Santa Rosa Junior College Theatre Arts Department. Greg acted as editor (with Connie Jacobs and James Giles) on Teaching the Work of Louise Eldrich (2004), an approach to teaching world literature. Greg has also written plays for Pieces of the Quilt, Intersection Theatre, and the Mark Taper Forum.
Greg’s play “Mission Indians” opened at Intersection Theatre in San Francisco in February 2002. It went on to receive the 2003 Bay Area Theatre Critics Award for Best Script. He also co-produced, advised, and was featured in a sixteen part series on American literature for public television called, “American Passages”, which won the prestigious Hugo Award for Best Documentary in 2003. Greg’s collection of children stories (soon to be published as How A Mountain Was Made) was performed in 2012 by the Word for Word Performing Arts Company at Z Space in San Francisco. He has also written two pilot scripts for Showtime and one for HBO. Greg regularly works with the Sundance Institute (reviewing and revising scripts) where he helped develop a summer writing lab for American Indians interested in film writing. He also sits on several boards including, the National Video Project, and Word for Word Theatre, where he is Honorary President.
Greg is currently serving his thirteenth term as Chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, his tribe which was formerly known as the Federated Coast Miwok. Tribal Chairman Greg Sarris co-authored a bill, H.R. 5528, on behalf of his tribe, and on December 27th, 2000, President Bill Clinton signed this bill, restoring the Federated Coast Miwok as a recognized American Indian Tribe.
Greg now lives and works in his beloved Sonoma County.