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By Chris Stone
“You know it’s not easy all the time,” the announcer told Dakota Jacome, who nodded his head. “But you can do it. You have the strong fire.”
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As his tribal community followed him around the sunlit arena, 13-year-old Dakota of the Barona Band of Mission Indians performed an honor dance at the 48th annual Barona Powwow.
Dakota was chosen “head young man dancer” for the Barona Band. And Kirstin Banegas was chosen “head young woman dancer.”
“For [Dakota] to be asked to be head young man at a big powwow, like Barona, is an honor for him, our family and his tribe,” said his mother, Anna.
“He’s a leader and a hard worker. He likes to help others, and he enjoys dancing for sure,” she said, adding that he’s been dancing since age 5.
Anna Jacob said Dakota’s duties would include putting on dance exhibitions at intertribal events.
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Some 300 dancers from across the county and Canada took part in the three-day powwow ending Sunday night at the Barona Sports Park on the East County reservation.
The event shows pride in being Indian, where singing and dancing are the focal points, said head judge Dennis Zotigh, museum cultural specialist at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.
“This dance that takes place has a rich tradition,” he said. “This reservation a long time ago welcomed the powwow, so it’s a well-established powwow here.”
Dancers — competing for $60,000 in prize money — ranged in age from toddlers to 80-year-olds in categories including fancy, grass, traditional and Southern/Northern Buckskin.
First-prize winners in the adult and senior categories won $1,000 each.
The featured color dress, handmade by families and friends.
Besides the dancing, hand-drum competitions were held throughout the event. Food booths and traditional arts were on display — and for sale — including jewelry, beadwork and blankets.
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