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Family thankful for return of Indian heirlooms

Published on February 26, 2018 5:23PM

Last May my family and I took a big loss regarding our family Indian heirlooms. The history of this regalia that was stolen was estimated at well over 100 years old and worth thousands of dollars.

There were many pieces that belonged to my late mother, whip-woman for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla-Walla Walla-Cayuse Tribes and the Pendleton Round-up and Happy Canyon, Anna Jane Wilkinson Pond. She was a third generation whip-woman following her mother in 1958, the late Margaret White (bird), and Anne Johnson since 1911.

This role includes a distinctive Indian perspective: leading, translating ritual and ceremony, and lastly the discipline of the Indian dancers pertaining to all Indian events, Indian celebrations and Indian trade.

Many former Indian princesses, Indian beauty contestants and Indian horse riders paraded with this Indian regalia since 1916. Her buckskin dress dates back to the first champion of the American Indian Beauty Contest, Eliza Bill, and later the dress was given in an Indian trade to my father’s Indian wedding, when my mother married my father, Dr. Ron Pond, in 1959. It had been used by many Happy Canyon princesses and their tryouts for the night show for many years.

Our family is very thankful for the thousands of people on social media and the outpouring of well wishes, and all who shared the gallery of photos of artifacts that were missing ... revealed in the East Oregonian last May.

Most notable are those who worked diligently to recover our family heirlooms: Tribal Police Officer Dave Williams, Mrs. Tom Melton, Pendleton Police Officer Byram and Mort Bishop III.

I hoped to send in the names who had reached far and wide with social media, and those who worked from the onset of our loss until recently when most everything had been returned to the our family.

We have high hopes to build some kind of task force and/or database to provide some support for all those who might have Indian regalia stolen/taken.

We have knowledge that the Antiquities Act of 1906 and the Native American Graves Protection Act of 1991 are intact to enable many of our antiquities to be returned to our Indian families.

If there is anyone who witnessed this crime, please report this to the proper authorities

Lona I. Pond



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