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Old 10-19-2006, 09:00 PM   #5
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Stolen Regalia Recovered - Official Story Sent from the Morongo Indian Reservation

Click link below for photo.


By Alison Stauffer and Waltona Manion

Morongo Indian Reservation, 16 October 2006 Due to some unconventional sleuthing and far-reaching Internet support, a family from Pine Ridge, South Dakota was recently re-united with their precious powwow regalia that had been stolen last month. Delmarina One Feather, of the Lakota Sioux tribe, had traveled from her home at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to Palm Springs, California in late September to compete in the Morongo tribe's 16th annual Thunder & Lightning Powwow.

In the wee hours of September 24th, while Delmarina slept at the Motel 6, a man broke into the nearby pickup truck and stole her red suitcase containing her powwow regalia.

A 17-year-old high-school senior and champion powwow dancer, Delmarina was stunned when she made the discovery. She had worn this regalia when she was featured in the "Pow Wow: Portraits of Native Americans" 2006 calendar and when she was named Miss Denver March PowWow Princess in 2004. She also wore it when she danced the Lakota Woman's Northern Buckskin dance presenting what Delmarina called "the dance that Lakota women used to do when warriors were coming back."

She called her family immediately with the bad news. They were shaken and upset by the theft but told Delmarina they would begin the task of making her new regalia that would take many months.

The Palm Springs Police Department sent out alerts and public requests for information to help solve the crime and Detective Nelson Figueroa was assigned to the case. The Morongo tribe and the One Feather family sent out flyers and emails and key websites including, and were active in issuing alerts and maintaining chatrooms about the theft.

"We thought chances were slim in recovering the items," said Figueroa.

" was tremendous is getting the word out to Indian Country," said Morongo tribal vice chair Mary Ann Andreas.

" webmaster Paul Gowder raised awareness across the country. This taught us the value of the Internet. and were also major Indian websites that publicized the crime."

The Federal Bureau of Investigation became involved due to the theft of the family's eagle feathers. Because eagles endangered and protected, the possession of eagle feathers is highly limited. Each feather is federally registered and marked with a serial number. The theft of a single eagle feather carries a sentence of 3 to 15 years in prison.

While the police department conducted their investigation, Arkamez Blankenship, cultural resources director for the Morongo tribe, started to perform some detective work of his own. Considering the unique status of the stolen property, Blankenship was able to follow a network of clues beginning on the Internet, and eventually located the stolen property.

"Somebody called me and said they knew somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody who could help get the stuff back," said Blankenship.

Blankenship called Detective Figueroa to share what he had learned and the two began working together.

They learned that the original thief had quickly distributed the items to other people. The trick was to get the items back before they disappeared into the black market.

Figueroa said Blankenship suggested he try contacting these persons on his own. With the police department's support, Blankenship began making calls and setting up meetings.

For Blankenship, a 28-year old scholar of indigenous languages, this was a dramatic departure in his normal work for the Morongo tribe in teaching language classes and helping to create a tribal archive of historical records.

"Tribal culture is such a precious heritage for any tribe," said Blankenship. "This girl had lost not only her dance regalia but things that were irreplaceable in terms of her own family. Her mother spent every night for a full year hand-making the more than two dozen items that make up her outfit. Her participation in pow wows has been a way to honor and preserve her tribe's heritage."

The girl's powwow dancing regalia, valued at over $10,000, included an ornately beaded buckskin dress in blue, red and yellow with long leather fringe, matching boots, a beaded cape, and a breastplate.

Lynda One Feather made the approximately 20 pieces of regalia and Delmar One Feather made Delmarina's breastplate and accessories.

Blankenship' s efforts resulted in securing a meeting with the individuals holding the goods and he was able to convince them to turn the items over to him. He promptly called Figueroa with the good news and turned over the possessions to him.

The Palm Springs Police Department has nothing but praise Blankenship.

"He's a real hero. He did a great job," said Palm Springs Police Detective Nelson Figueroa.

Lynda One Feather marveled at the detective work, "California is a big state. There are so many people, so many places. I never thought we would get it back."

After recovering the items, Blankenship contacted the family to tell them the good news.

The One Feather family then immediately began the nearly 1,400-mile road trip from their home on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation back to the Morongo Indian Reservation. Delmarina was accompanied by her 14-year-old sister, Daisa, her mother, Lynda, and her father, Delmar One Feather.

On the morning of Sunday, October 15th, the One Feather family met Blankenship and Detective Figueroa face-to-face for the first time. At the reunion, Morongo tribal vice chair Mary Ann Andreas presented a Morongo tribal blanket to Detective Figueroa and provided the One Feather family with a ceremonial blanket as well as funds to cover their costs in traveling from Pine Ridge to Palm Springs to reclaim their property.

"We are very proud of Arkamez and the remarkable job he did in advising the Palm Springs Police Department and in successfully recovering the One Feather Family's possessions, " said Andreas. "We are grateful to Detective Figueroa, all that he did and the faith he showed in Arkamez."

And Delmarina?

"My outfit is a part of me. It's part of my soul, my spirit. It's why I go to powwows," said Delmarina. "I feel like I'm whole again."

A committed student, she was also happy that her homework had been recovered which contained her 10-page school essay on "What is success?" Now she can count this experience as a success.

Her father Delmar One Feather said that his daughter would perform a "wopila" a special ceremony at Morongo's powwow next year to thank the tribe for its help in locating the regalia.

"Be good, be kind, help each other."
"Respect the ground, respect the drum, respect each other."

--Abe Conklin, Ponca/Osage (1926-1995)
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