Greg Sarris, Tribal Chairman
In 1992, when Greg Sarris was beginning his teaching career at UCLA as an assistant professor, he got word of another tribe attempting to establish a casino at Tomales Bay. This tribe was not Coast Miwok or Southern Pomo and was well out of its ancestral territory. Greg immediately notified and consulted with Tribal elders, and soon after called the first meeting to reorganize the Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria. He led the push for restoration of the tribe as a federally recognized American Indian nation. It took years of gathering records, family histories and interviews of all who were descended from the original Tribal members, in order for this evidence to be submitted to the United States Department of the Interior. Finally, eight years later, Greg co-authored the Graton Rancheria Restoration Act, 25 U.S.C. §1300n (Act) with California Indian Legal Services. President Clinton signed the Act into law on December 27, 2000, officially granting the Tribe status as a federally recognized tribe. The Act mandated that the Secretary of the Interior take land in the Tribe's aboriginal territory of Marin or Sonoma Counties into trust as the Tribe's reservation. This was only the beginning...
Greg is currently the Tribal Chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. He is in his twelfth elected term as Chairman of the Tribe and is currently leading the Tribe in its economic development endeavors. Tribal Chairman Greg Sarris oversees all business negotiations and the daily operations of the Tribe.
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. He teaches Creative Writing and lecture-based classes on Native Cultures of Northern California.
Greg's passion for written arts is the inspiration for his literary accomplishments, which include published books, stories and story-telling, plays and his award-winning HBO Miniseries. He is equally passionate about the environment, specifically, laying the ground work for organic farming that does not exploit people or resources, and will sustain for many future generations. This "sustainable development" is the core of Tribal Chairman Greg Sarris' coming home to being "Keepers of the Land".
Learn more about Greg Sarris by visiting his website at www.greg-sarris.com
Lorelle W.B. Ross, Vice-Chair
Lorelle Ross has served five elected terms as a member of the Tribal Council to further her commitment to building a healthy tribal community that values cultural and social development, health, education, and economic fortitude. Beginning when she was just nineteen, she has served as a Council Member, Treasurer, and currently is serving her second term as Vice-Chair.
Lorelle's grandfather was one of Graton Rancheria's original distributees. After the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria was illegally terminated in the late 1950's and early 1960's, her Grandfather maintained ownership of one acre on the original Rancheria. The one-acre parcel is currently owned and held in fee simple by Lorelle's mother Gloria Armstrong, who has lived on the land for over fifty years. Lorelle was also raised on this parcel and currently lives with her mother in the original wood frame house that was first constructed on the Rancheria approximately seventy years ago.
Melissa Elgin, Tribal Secretary
Ms. Elgin was elected as Tribal Secretary in January 2015 after serving a six-month appointment by the Tribal Council to fill a vacant seat through December 2014. She attended the Santa Rosa Junior College where she received her Associate Degree with high honors in 2010. She has been employed by the Tribe since March of 2013. Prior to working for the Tribe, she had worked at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital as an Emergency Room Admissions Representative for over 12 years.
Gene Buvelot, Treasurer
Gene Buvelot has served on the Tribal Council of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, formerly known as the Federated Coast Miwok, for the past 22 years. Gene was first elected to the Tribal Council in 1992, serving until 1993 as the Tribal Treasurer. In 1993, he was elected to Tribal Vice Chairman position and served in this capacity until December 2002. In December 2002 he was re-elected to, and still serves in the position of Tribal Treasurer. From 1992 through 2001, Gene administered the Tribe's citizenship enrolment records. In 2001 he helped establish both the Tribe's Citizenship Department and Committee. He presently serves as the Chairman of the Membership Committee.
Gene worked for the City Of San Francisco where he was employed for five years at the San Francisco Public Library. Gene then worked in administration at Bank of America and retired there after 32 years of service. Both prior to and after retiring from Bank of America, Gene worked in the mortuary industry at funeral homes in Marin County.Gene has been actively involved with the cultural activities of the Tribe. In 1992 he served as a Cultural Resource Monitor whose responsibilities included protecting the Tribe's Sacred Sites. In 1996, he was appointed to the Tribe's Cultural Resource Committee, now known as the Sacred Sites Protection Committee.
Robert Stafford Jr., Member at large
Mr. Stafford has been an active tribal member for the past 10 years. He was elected to tribal council in January of 2015 with a hope to improve health, education and cultural values for all tribal citizens. He has been employed with the City and County of San Francisco for the past 18 years.
Lynn Silva, Member at large
I was recently elected in January 2015, to the Tribal Council and am fulfilling my first year term as a Council Member. I thoroughly am enjoying my role as a Tribal Council Member and am looking forward to serving the Tribal Citizens and their families.
I graduated from Rancho Cotate High School, in Rohnert Park California. After working for the State of California for nearly 30 years, I retired in 2013, then went to work for the Graton Resort and Casino until 2014.
My name is Lawrence Stafford. I was born and raised in Sonoma County. I attended college and majored in business, and have been employed with Hewlett Packard Company for over 31 years. My position entails strategic procurement and logistics management. I am currently serving my thirteenth year as an elected Tribal Council Member at Large. I also serve on the GEDA board, Graton Economic Development Authority, for the past thirteen months. I am proud to say I am a husband, father, stepfather, and grandfather. That in itself drives my desire to continue to work hard in life.