Yerington’s Stevens running to raise awareness
RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Ku Stevens has left his mark in Yerington as the best high school runner in the state of Nevada.
“I did my first race when I was 8 years old,” said Stevens. “It was like a little half-mile sprint. I won that.”
He’s been winning ever since, and was named the Nevada State Gatorade Athlete of the Year as a senior in cross country.
“I worked hard, you know, I wanted that award,” admitted Stevens. “I was nominated last year; I didn’t get it. But this year I came back with a vengeance. I was like man, I want to win that. I want my banner up in the gym.”
He’s now got two banners in the rafters; among the four total in school history. Stevens also won the State Gatorade award this season in track and field.
“I had to keep my grades up; my citizenship. I worked on that a lot,” explained Stevens. “Volunteer hours, everything. A lot goes into Gatorade; into that award. And a lot of people don’t see that.”
But his community does see him using his platform to raise awareness about his Paiute heritage, including the troubling past of Native American children being forced into boarding schools.
“I would really like to see it in some history books, just more detailed descriptions of what happened to us,” continued Stevens.
His great-grandfather escaped from the Stewart Indian School at just 8 years old, running 50 miles from Carson City back to his home on the reservation.
“We’re just looking for some recognition,” explained Stevens. “That’s what we want to hear, is that you recognize the mistakes of the past, and that you’re willing to acknowledge that.”
He gained national attention last year, for organizing a Remembrance Run to retrace his great-grandfather’s steps. A story that was featured by the New York Times.
“We wanted to teach, cause it’s not taught in public education systems; it’s not part of the curriculum,” said Stevens. “What we wanted to do was just bring some attention to it, some light.”
Another Remembrance Run is scheduled for August 13th and 14th, where participants will run from the Paiute reservation in Yerington to the Stewart Indian School & Museum in Carson City.
“It’s not to put anybody down, it’s not to make anybody feel bad for being white or brown or black, or anything like that,” stressed Stevens. “We’re all people. We’re just coming together to recognize that the injustices of the past are not yet recognized. And by people being there, it shows that me and other native Americans are cared about in today’s society.”
Anybody is welcome to run in part or all of the two-day event. Or even just show up to show your support and learn more about the Native American culture.
Stevens is heading to Eugene in the fall to run for the Oregon Ducks, one of the best track and field programs in the country. Fulfilling a dream he’s had since the sixth grade.
“It took so much work, it really did. So many hours on this track, other tracks. Just by myself in blazing hot sun like this. It’s really good to see it all pay off,” added Stevens.
You can get more information by going to Facebook and searching “Remembrance Run 2022″ (facebook.com/events/1032286587368862).
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