Edmonton

Powwow dancer pleads for safe return of stolen regalia

Perkins Noon feels hollow without his powwow regalia.

'I really want to get them back. It's kind of hard to even talk about it'

Perkins Noon, his wife Fawn and son Gabriel pose for a photograph following a recent powwow performance. (Perkins Noon)

Perkins Noon feels hollow without his powwow regalia.

His large, teardrop-shaped bustle of eagle feathers, a beaded breastplate, traditional bells and leather leggings were stolen from his sister's home in Wetaskiwin last week.

Noon said the bustle alone could be worth thousands of dollars on the black market.

To him, it's priceless. 

"If you go back to the old stories, my people gave their lives for feathers, especially if they were given to you by someone that you respect," Noon said.

He was given the regalia in 2017 by his wife's uncle, Boysie Porter. The items are more than family heirlooms. They are sacred. 

These feathers have come a long way.- Perkins Noon

"He officially gave the bustle to me in a traditional Blackfoot ceremony," Noon said. "I'm Cree but he's Blackfoot, so he transferred those feathers to me and they're very old feathers. They must be 40, 50 years old.

"These feathers have come a long way, and that's why they mean a lot to me. I really want to get them back. It's kind of hard to even talk about it." 

Perkins Noon says his powwow regalia was stolen in Wetaskiwin last week. (Perkins Noon)

Noon last wore the regalia at the Samson Cree Nation powwow in early August. He's in the midst of moving his family from Kamloops back to his home community of Maskwacis, so after the celebrations he dropped the items off at his sister's home for safe keeping.

Normally, Noon smudges his regalia before wrapping the items carefully for storage. But this time, he hung them up to allow the delicate feathers to air out. 

The following week, Noon was preparing to drive to another powwow in Morley when he realized the items were gone.

"I have two flat screen TVs sitting there, and they weren't taken," he said. 

"We have gold jewelry sitting there in my wife's jewelry box. That wasn't touched. We had other valuables lying around the house and they weren't touched.

"I don't know why those specific items were taken." 

I believe there is good in everybody.- Perkins Noon

Noon said powwow dancing has always been a part of his life and is a rich part of his heritage.

He traces his roots back to the Thunderchild First Nation near Turtleford, Sask., and the Papaschase First Nation in Edmonton, and comes from a long line of powwow dancers. 

The sale and purchase of eagle feathers is prohibited in Canada but Noon fears the missing items may be sold on the black market. He said the theft of regalia has become increasingly common in the powwow community. 

"It's very dishonourable to buy eagle feathers in the first place. We don't have any respect for people who buy feathers, but there are people who will."

Noon said he's gone to all the pawnshops in the Wetaskiwin area in search of the stolen items but has not reported the incident to police.

He fears that someone he knows is the thief, and he wants to give them a chance to come clean.

"I believe there is good in everybody. And I believe that the person responsible, I know they have something in them that will allow them to do the right thing."

(Perkins Noon)

About the Author

Wallis Snowdon

Journalist

Wallis Snowdon is a digital journalist with CBC Edmonton. She has nearly a decade of experience reporting behind her. Originally from New Brunswick, her journalism career has taken her from Nova Scotia to Fort McMurray. Share your stories with Wallis at wallis.snowdon@cbc.ca