• Greg Sarris
  • Beth Piatote

Indigenous Memory and Nature Interact: Native Californian Stories

Indigenous leader and author Greg Sarris will join Assoc. Prof. of Comparative Literature and English Beth Piatote to discuss how literature and nature intersect with stories of Bay Area Native American history. Sarris will share insights from his memoir Becoming Story, which explores Coast Miwok culture. Centering Native lands, such as Angel Island (Coast Miwok territory) can frame a dialogue about Native American resistance and persistence in the face of settler colonialism and global migration.

This talk is the first in a year-long project called A Year on Angel Island devoted to thinking about migration, exclusion and resistance by focusing on the Angel Island Immigration Station. This was a place designed to exclude as well as to process hundreds of thousands of  immigrants from more than 80 countries, mostly from Asia.  At the start of this project, we thought it important to begin with the stories of the original inhabitants of Angel Island, the Coast Miwok people. Their territory included Angel Island long before San Francisco Bay was a magnet for people around the world.

Greg Sarris is Tribal Chairman of the Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria and author of books and plays including Becoming Story, Watermelon Nights, Keeping Slug Woman Alive: A Holistic Approach to American Indian Texts, Mission Indians, and How a Mountain was Made. Sarris’ collection of short stories, Grand Avenue, was adapted for an HBO miniseries of the same name, co-executive produced by Robert Redford. A Native of Santa Rosa, CA, Sarris graduated summa cum laude from UCLA and has a PhD in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford. He has been a full professor of English at UCLA; Fletcher Jones Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at Loyola Marymount University; and currently holds the Graton Rancheria Endowed Chair in Writing and Native American Studies at Sonoma State University.

Beth Piatote is a creative writer, playwright, and scholar. She is an Indigenous language activist and a founding member of luk’upsíimey/North Star Collective, a group dedicated to using creative expression for Nez Perce language revitalization. She is one of the co-creators and current Chair of the DesignatedEmphasis in Indigenous Language Revitalization at Berkeley. Her current scholarly projects include articles on Indigenous language revitalization, with a focus on Nez Perce literature and language; and a book manuscript on Indigenous literature, law, and the senses. She is an associate professor of Comparative Literature and English and the Director of the Arts Research Center. She is Nez Perce, enrolled with Colville Confederated Tribes.