As a tribute to his great-grandfather and the many victims of the boarding schools, this summer Stevens ran the same 50 miles. He called it the Remembrance Run. Over two days, he tore through the scorched desert, stopping every 5 miles for the pack of more than 100 other runners to catch up. He thought of his great-grandfather. How did Quinn survive? Where did he take shelter?
“I owe him everything,” says Stevens, whose family hews closely to Paiute traditions. A canvas-covered sweat lodge, used for ceremonies to mark the seasons, sits in the family’s backyard. They farm alfalfa on the same land that has been a home to the tribe for centuries. “When I run, I take my history with me and especially Frank Quinn. He went through so much at such a young age. And his first escape from Stewart wasn’t the last.”
There are hardly any records of Quinn’s time at Stewart, but after that first escape, government agents dragged him back. Once more he fled, only to be caught and returned. He escaped again and made it home again. The school finally gave up. Quinn became a rancher, a tribal leader, and a respected elder—a quiet man who refused to speak ill of anyone. He died in the mid-1980s, a quarter-mile from the home where Stevens lives now.
It was near that home where Stevens fell in love with running. The speed and self-reliance of it made him feel free. He remembers that sense surging through him at age 4 in his first race, a half-mile run he sprinted the entire way. By 8, he ran constantly at the side of his father. By 12, he pounded out miles without his dad, speeding day after day down dirt paths rimming nearby farms.