Becoming Story: A Journey Among Seasons, Places, Trees, and Ancestors [Paperback]

Becoming Story: A Journey Among Seasons, Places, Trees, and Ancestors [Paperback]
Paperback, 5 x 7, 240 pages
ISBN: 9781597146296.

By Greg Sarris

Now in paperback: a gently powerful memoir about deepening your relationship with your homeland.

“A fascinating and evocative memoir in essays.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Tribal chairman and celebrated storyteller Greg Sarris—whose novels are esteemed alongside those of Louise Erdrich and Stephen Graham Jones—invites us into intimate and contemplative scenes from his own life in Becoming Story. With this memoir-in-essays he asks: What does it mean to be truly connected to the place you call home—to walk where innumerable generations of your ancestors have walked? And what does it mean when you dedicate your life to making that connection even deeper? Moving between his childhood and the present day, Sarris creates a kaleidoscopic narrative about the forces that shaped his early years and his eventual work as a tribal leader. He considers the fathomless past, historical traumas, and possible futures of his homeland. His acclaimed storytelling skills are in top form here, and he charts his journey in prose that is humorous, searching, and profound. Described as “jewellike” by the San Francisco ChronicleBecoming Story is also a gently powerful guide in the art of belonging to the place where you live.


"Sarris recounts the hard-won knowledge of Coast Miwok, Pomo, and other Indigenous peoples. He also imagines a possible future in which at least some Native lands are restored to their pre-contact health and serve as models for what the world might learn from Indigenous peoples, if it’s not too late to put such lessons to use." M.T. Hartnell, Alta Journal
"A fascinating and evocative memoir in essays." Kirkus Reviews , starred review
"Sarris gathers from gossip, myth, dreams and science to investigate the imperishable power of story itself and how it helps us locate and claim a sense of home. … In clean, thoughtful prose with jewellike detail—whether pondering Yosemite, his childhood babysitter, a secret cave or the oak tree outside his house—these meditations enchant." Joan Frank, San Francisco Chronicle
"Greg Sarris’s Becoming Story is a thoughtful, poignant collection of essays that feels at once inevitable and serendipitous. Sarris, an accomplished writer […] is exactly the person one would expect to produce such an intimate reflection of modern Native American life, and to reveal the delicate interconnections between his personal story, the story of his people, and the places that have shaped those people since time immemorial." Rain Taxi
"Greg Sarris's resonant memoir explores identities, heritages, and the legacies of places. … The book details California's troubled history of European conquest, Manifest Destiny, and the suppression and subversion of Indigenous ways of life. It laments that the state's mystical, resourceful Indigenous cultures were invaded by Spanish rancheros in the 1800s, after which California's environmental harmony began to suffer. … Testifying to the impacts of people on the land, the powerful memoir Becoming Story lauds the power of language when it comes to leaving tracks for others to follow." Foreword Reviews
"In this powerful memoir-in-essays, Greg Sarris explores questions about home, connection, and belonging in vivid prose that is both humorous and profound." Laura Schmitt, Electric Literature
"Like Oakland author Tommy Orange, Sarris has portrayed Native American life in a non-romantic, realistic way in his past work. Becoming Story maintains this, but also takes on a more dreamlike quality, as Sarris evokes memories from his past and incorporates landscape, weaving them into a whole narrative." Kary Hess, The Bohemian
"In Sarris's latest work, Becoming Story, he invites us into an intimate and communal California Indian world. Part memoir, part history, part ethnography, the work has echoes of Momaday's The Way to Rainy Mountain. He shares, with refreshing honesty, his family roots—their depths and dislocations, as well as the their strong sinews that the forces of settler colonialism and American genocide could not sever. His narrative reminds us that the roots of our tribal identities "remember" and, ultimately, restore(y) us." Theresa Gregor, Asst. Prof of American Indian Studies at Cal State University, Long Beach
"Sarris’ Northern California landscapes are sacred texts, peopled with elk, pronghorn, osprey, and lizards. Traversing different lives, Becoming Story is a heartfelt contemplation of one man’s decades-long journey of returning home."—San Francisco Book Review San Francisco Book Review
"Sarris’ storytelling masterfully weaves in mythologies and legends with each musing, taking readers along on his pilgrimage. [...] Becoming Story is an emotional read, full of humor and sadness, which may leave read- ers feeling a nostalgic sense of comfort and yearning for home while also pondering their ecological interconnectedness to place." Charish Bishop, Journal of American Folklore
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About the Author

Greg Sarris

Greg Sarris

Greg Sarris is currently serving his sixteenth term as Chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and his first term as board chair for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. His publications include Keeping Slug Woman Alive (1993), Grand Avenue (1994, reissued 2015), Watermelon Nights (1998, reissued 2021), How a Mountain Was Made (2017, published by Heyday), and Becoming Story (2022, published by Heyday). Greg lives and works in Sonoma County, California. Visit his website at

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


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