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Graton Rancheria makes $3.5 million donation to Roseland Library project

Chairman Greg Sarris of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria said the tribe is proud to be able to help make sure the library gets completed.|

In a bid to boost literacy and inject more equity into Santa Rosa’s education system, the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria is donating $3.5 million for the construction of the new Roseland Public Library.

The project will also be part of a community center and fire station.

Ray Holley, communications manager for the Sonoma County Library, said the tribe’s donation is “a stellar example of why we Californians voted many years ago to allow economic development activities by Native Americans.”

“The Graton group really walks its talk in terms of giving back to the community,” he said.

The library will be built within 10 miles of the tribe’s Graton Resort & Casino at 288 Golf Course Drive in Rohnert Park. Chairman Greg Sarris said the tribe is proud to help ensure the library is completed.

“To me, reading and education is so important for all of us, and there needs to be equity in the education system,” he said.

“So many of our tribal citizens have lived (in Roseland) in the past and currently live there, so we thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to support something that would have a legacy of education and well-being for that particular community.”

Sarris said the tribe has given more than $60 million in charitable gifts to the community in the name of “environmental stewardship and social justice.”

At the end of April, the tribe created the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria Scholarship Fund, which allocated $2.5 million for California Indigenous students to be accepted to the University of California tuition free.

The tribe also donated $4.27 million to UCLA Law in July for creation of two Native American law faculty chairs.

From day one, he said the tribe always wanted “to benefit Indian and non-Indian people alike.”

“We get a lot of requests for funding, and this was one that we thought was really important to us,” Sarris said.

Holley said that while the full total of how much funding is required for the project is still being decided, fundraising and grant requests will continue to be accepted.

He added the city estimates the project’s cost at $26 million. But because of uncertain construction costs caused by the pandemic, those numbers could quickly change. Holley hopes an official total will be calculated by next year.

Holley said the libraries want to make the partnership with Graton Rancheria permanent.

“We want it to be positive, and we want it to be a wonderful outcome,” Holley said.

The temporary Roseland Library location at 470 Sebastopol Road will stay open until the new building opens.

You can reach Staff Writer Sara Edwards at 707-521-5378 or sara.edwards@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @sedwards380.

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