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KEWA (Santo Domingo Pueblo)

For Daniel, you get the sense that it is all about doing your best and being there for others. Whether as a father, a son, a grandson, on the council of his tribe, as mayor of Kewa or lieutenant governor of Kewa, or as an artist, Daniel wants to do his best. And for him, his best must honor the best of his family because Daniel is carrying on their traditions, not only of jewelry-making but also of serving the village.

Daniel learned the hand-grinding of stones into beads from his mother, Nestoria Coriz. Nestoria was a child herself, only 14, when she started making jewelry. Daniel learned lapidary from his grandfather, Lupe Pena. He grew up with jewelry-making all around him. But he had other responsibilties in his life, too, like taking care of 150 chickens, hogs and sheep. As the oldest he was responsible. His family also pushed him to get an education and for awhile he pursued a degree in electronics. But then he had a son, and strove to meet his new responsibilities by joining the army reserves and studying nursing. Jewelry making paid the way. And kept paying the way. Even as he then sought more responsibilities within the village.

In 2007, Daniel became mayor of Kewa and also was on the village council. At 42, he was the youngest man by twenty years to ever be on the council. He served as mayor twice, and then in 2012 he was elected Lieutenant Governor of Kewa.

The day he was accepted onto the council, he first went to the house of his father, Lupe Pena. Lupe's own father, Santiago Pena, had been governor of Kewa five times. Lupe himself had been War Chief four times. Daniel opened the door to Lupe's home and was confronted with a room full of the other council members. Across the room, Daniel found the face of his father and focused there, not letting his eyes stray from the strength he saw there as he made his way through the crowd of elders. His father took Daniel's face in his hands and said, “You can do this.” It wasn't fear that made Daniel hesitate as much as wanting to honor and serve, a need to help. Daniel says, "I am always learning. Trying to improve life for the young ones."

It's the idea of a lasting legacy that seems to drive Daniel the most. Not only in his service to his village, but also in his jewelry. For Daniel, it's the thought that something he made will be around when he's gone. It's the vision of a person's eyes lighting up seeing his work. And what we can tell is that it matters to him to make people happy, to help and to make a difference in the lives of others.