Buried Stories reveals the life story of a Native American (Ohlone/Esselen) Ella Rodriguez, who, in her seventies, still resents that she was taken from her rural California home at age thirteen and sent to an Indian boarding school. After running away from the school and becoming ensnared in the juvenile justice system, she was forced into marriage by a parole officer at eighteen, then labored as a migrant worker. In the 1970s, when Ella was 44, she protested for weeks to stop the destruction of a Native American cemetery site and dedicated her life to preserving her heritage.
After two decades of working on endangered construction sites to oversee and protect Native American burial grounds, Ella obtained an informal but comprehensive education about her ancestors. Ella's later years bridged her Native American past and modern archaeological research. A resilient and wisecracking woman in a hard hat, Ella fought to preserve her ancestors' history. In the process, she connected with her painful personal past as she unearthed troubling official documents relating to her youth. Told through Ella's charismatic and poignant lens, her story incites curiosity about the historical and cultural forces that shaped her destiny and identity.
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