By Clark Mason
But one of his staunchest casino adversaries, who has spent several years researching U.S. Census records, claims Sarris doesn't have a trace of Indian heritage.
“Mr. Sarris possesses no Native American blood, and specifically, no Coast Miwok and/or Southern Pomo blood, and thus is not qualified to be a member of the (FIGR) Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria,” Marilee Montgomery wrote in a Feb. 8 letter to federal and state officials.
She has asked the U.S. Department of Interior, which oversees Indian tribes, to review the information she discovered “and if applicable, de-certify” Sarris as tribal chairman.
Sarris said Montgomery's allegations are “horrendously offensive to me and my family.”
“I have immediate blood family members, at least 40 in this tribe,” he said.
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 his birth mother declared a Mexican man to be the father, but he decided that Emilio Hilario was his father. Whether or not Hilario had Native American blood is currently the subject of debate, as genealogical records indicate that he did not. Mary Bernadette "Bunny" Hartman, of Irish and German-Jewish descent, was his mother. He was adopted by a local couple, George and Mary Sarris.
For more on the subject, see Two Faces of Enrollment and Box-Checkers and Mock-Checkers.