Hirsts receive historical society award for work with Havasupai

Stephen and Lois Hirst were honored by the Grand Canyon Historical Society for their decades of work with the Havasupai Tribe, including helping establish a photo archive.

Photo/Heinz Opelz, 2006

Stephen and Lois Hirst were honored by the Grand Canyon Historical Society for their decades of work with the Havasupai Tribe, including helping establish a photo archive.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The first-ever Lee C. Albertson Award, honoring the best contributing paper written and presented at our History Symposium, was presented by the Board of the Grand Canyon Historical Society to Stephen and Lois Hirst of Flagstaff, Arizona, for their work “Recovering Lost Stories: The Havasupai Photograph Project.”

The Board has yet to determine what (if anything) goes along with the distinct recognition of being the first awardees.

The naming of the award is in honor of past GCHS president, secretary and multi-term board member Lee C. Alberston, who took it upon himself to initiate, guide and direct our second and third History Symposia. Lee was beginning to prepare for our fourth History Symposium when he passed away in February 2016. The Board wanted to recognize Lee’s abundant contributions to the Society and decided on an award for the best paper at the History Symposium. There have been four symposia to date, with the next one scheduled for February 2019, when Grand Canyon National Park turns 100 years old. Another award will be given at that time to one or more deserving individuals who make a significant new contribution regarding the history of the Grand Canyon.

The Hirsts have been involved in the Grand Canyon and its history (and specifically the Havasupai Tribe) since 1967, when they arrived to work at the Supai school. They spent the next 16 years at Supai and garnered the trust of tribal elders to work on the tribe’s behalf.

Having never lost their identity with the tribe, they embarked on other research aspects at far-flung repositories such as the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Their research there on behalf of the tribe uncovered dozens of never-before-seen photographs of tribal members, some from the early 1890s. This discovery has led to numerous benefits for the tribe and has expanded our early knowledge of tribal members and history.

The Hirsts were also presented with the Grand Canyon Historical Society’s Pioneer Award. The Pioneer Award is presented the GCHS members who have made several important contributions to the society. It was presented to the Hirsts for their work at the Supai school from 1967 to 1983, helping the tribe regain some of its ancestral lands via the Grand Canyon National Park Enlargement Act of 1975 and Stephen Hirst’s authorship of Grand Canyon and Havasupai-related literature including “I am the Grand Canyon” and “Lauren Greasewater’s War.”

The couple also discovered more than 400 historic photographs of the Havasupai Tribe scattered between museums, archives, boxes and collections around the country, which allowed the tribe to develop its own archive in which members can trace their lineage as far back as the 1700s. The Hirsts also donated their own personal photos to the archive.

The Hirsts have also worked as volunteer interpretive rangers at the Coconino National Forest and Flagstaff-area monuments.

On behalf of the Board, we extend our congratulations to the Hirsts for achieving these awards.

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