I Am the Grand Canyon: The Story of the Havasupai People

I Am the Grand Canyon: The Story of the Havasupai People

by Stephen Hirst

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In 1882 the federal government set aside 518 acres of land in Havasu Canyon, a side canyon of Grand Canyon, as the Havasupai Indian Reservation. The reservation was a tiny section of traditional Havasupai lands, which ranged over much of north-central Arizona south of the Colorado River. The Havasupai used this land as winter hunting grounds, and the entire tribe traditionally moved to the plateau above Havasu Canyon every fall. Now, they were confined to a canyon on a reservation too small to support their people.
For nearly a century, the Havasupai fought for the return of some of their traditional lands. Then, in the spring of 1971, the federal government proposed incorporating even more of the traditional Havasupai lands into the national park. At public hearings in Grand Canyon Village to discuss the plan, Havasupai Tribal Chairman Lee Marshall rose to speak. “I heard all you people talking about the Grand Canyon,” he said. “Well, you’re looking at it. I am the Grand Canyon!” Marshall made clear that the land and the surrounding plateau were critical to the tribe. Generations of Havasupais found voice that day through Marshall, and the speech laid the foundation for the 1975 return of thousands of acres of traditional Havasupai land.
I Am the Grand Canyon is the story of the Havasupai people, from their ancestral beginnings through the long battle with the federal government over their traditional lands to the tribe in modern times.

“This book is our Bible. We use it to teach our kids who they are.”—Fydel Jones, Havasupai

Product Details

BN ID: 2940012878373
Publisher: Grand Canyon Association
Publication date: 05/31/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 522,537
File size: 20 MB
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About the Author

Steve and Lois Hirst served with the first contingent of Peace Corps volunteers to Liberia, West Africa, from 1962 to 1964. They worked and studied in Bologna, Italy, during 1964 and 1965. In 1966 Steve earned an MA in international relations from The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and, as Soviet Desk Officer for the U. S. Commerce Department, took part in the U. S. government’s first trade mission to Eastern Europe. Lois was managing applicant processing for VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America-Domestic Peace Corps).
The Hirsts first came to the Havasupai in 1967 to operate their Head Start preschool. Thus began a relationship that has persisted for forty years. During the eleven years the Hirsts lived in Havasu Canyon, their daughter Alexa was born, the tribal council asked Lois to oversee their education programs, and the Havasupai asked the Hirsts to research and document their efforts to regain their ancestral lands. This book is the outcome of that work.
After the Hirsts left the Havasupai in 1983, Lois earned a doctorate at Northern Arizona University. In 1985, she became professor of educational administration at Northern Michigan University. In 1996, she received the Michigan Board of Governors’ Distinguished Faculty award. The Hirsts continued their connection with Native Americans in Michigan by working with Ojibwe and Potowatomi education programs.
The Hirsts returned to Flagstaff in 2004, where they continue their friendship and work with the Havasupai people. Their daughter Alexa believes they have come home.

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