Arizona Indian Living Treasures Awards

To Honor the Cultures of Arizona Native American Tribes

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Herbert "Herb" R Stevens


Herb Stevens receives Arizona Indian Living Treasure Award

Posted: Wednesday, Oct 26th, 2011
Arizona Silver Belt
By: Sandra Rambler/Staff Reporter

Phoenix, AZ – On Oct. 15, tribal member and the Director of the Tribe’s Culture Center, Herbert R. Stevens, was honored before a large crowd gathered in the Steele Auditorium at the Heard Museum in the downtown metropolitan area, for his work that included making and playing the Apache flute and violin, coiled basketweaving, bows and arrows, storytelling, moccasins, campdress, ceremonial buckskin dress and skirt, pottery, beadwork, ceremonial drum, carving traditional pieces, creating writing and setting up ceremonial wickiups.

The Arizona Indian Living Treasure Award (AILTA) comprises of a board who receives nominations, reviews the nomination list and selects those that are honored. The recipients are those individuals who demonstrate a lifetime of achievement in the area of traditional arts and culture preservation and must be over 60 years old.

It is the desire of AILTA to recognize individuals who serve their community by sharing their arts and traditions, and passing them on to the next generation. The organization began with their first recognition in 1988 and to date has recognized nearly 100 recipients.

Previously recognized were Philip Titla, Sr., from the San Carlos Apache Tribe and Edgar Perry from the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

A plaque was presented to the recipients, which read, “I, Janice K. Brewer, Governor of the State of Arizona, do hereby offer my sincere congratulations to Herbert R. Stevens, recipient of the Arizona Indian Living Treasure Award. Your work in preserving a special part of the Indian culture that is a unique part of the southwest is commendable. I join with many others in applauding you on your outstanding accomplishment. On behalf of the citizens of the State of Arizona, congratulations and my best wishes for your continued success.”

San Carlos Apache Tribal Councilmembers, Bernadette Goode and Tao Etpison, were present and Mr. Stevens’ aunts, Sadie Kniffen and Sarah Bush were joined by family members, Mitzi Stevens Classey, Laura Henry, Elizabeth Henry, Charlotte Goode, Jerry Hopkins, Bernadette Kniffen and others. Also present was Tribal Archaeologist, Vernelda Grant.

“At age 7, I learned how to make moccasins and I am 63 years old now and I am still making them,” remarked Mr. Stevens, as he smiled and recognized tribal member, Veronica Phillips, who was wearing a complete set of a ceremonial buckskin outfit during the awards ceremony.

“I would also like to recognize my elderly aunts, Sadie Kniffen and Sarah Bush and thank every one for coming here and joining us.”

“I am so glad that I had the opportunity to be taught from my elderly and spiritual people. They encouraged me to continue on with my education and I went back to school in Santa Fe, N.M. and Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz., where I received my Master’s Degree in fine arts.

“Also, I will be teaching the Apache language. We are losing it and it has been my goal to teach the Apache language the way I was taught by my elders how to speak it.”

After some time, Mr. Stevens then shared a story he had written while eloquently explaining the meaning of the four directions, the north, south, west and east. He encouraged the young people to preserve these stories and pass them on and to learn more about their own cultural backgrounds.

Others artists recognized were Joseph Joaquin from the Tohono O’Odham Nation, Chester Kahn from the Navajo Nation and Thomas Nahsonhoya from the Hopi Tribe.

“The Gilson Wash District is proud and honored that Herb Stevens received the Arizona Indian Living Award from Governor Brewer. Congratulations, Herb,” said Gilson Wash District Councilmember, Tao Etpison.

“I wanted to say thank you for supporting my uncle, Herb Stevens, for this outstanding honor,” added Seven Mile Wash District Councilmember, Bernadette Goode.

“We are all here to continue to support him in his accomplishments.”

Tribal elders, Sarah Bush and Sadie Kniffen, smiled and nodded their heads. Mrs. Bush pointed out, “We are all so proud of my nephew Herb. His dad was Ray Stevens and out of our brothers and sisters, we are the only ones left. I am 86 years old and my sister Sadie is 91 years old. Herb has made us very happy today.”

Also presented in addition to the plaque was a woven Pendleton blanket bearing the name of the recipients and the inscription of the Arizona Indian Living Treasure Award.

Other speakers included board members, Howard Sice, Daryl Melvin, Claude Pahona and Taylor Satala. The ceremony began at 1 p.m. and ended close to 3 p.m.

San Carlos Apache
Mocassin Maker

Previous AILTA Recipients

Chester Kahn
Craft: Painter
Tribe: Navajo
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