Dooley Submitted photo

Dooley
Submitted photo

ENG 267 students

When Sunny Dooley came to Lorain County Community College during the week of March 9, she brought with her 30 years worth of Navajo Blessingway stories to share with all who came to hear. Working as a storyteller, folklorist and cultural consultant, she has spent a large portion of her life collecting, learning and retelling the oral tradition of the Diné Hozhojii Hané (Navajo Blessingway stories).

Dooley visited various English and Communications classes as well as student organizations to spread her Navajo cultural background. Called “Navajo Blessingway” stories, they present a world view of the Diné people and detail their relationships with the landscape of the Four Corners area, a Navajo-dominated region in the United States that consists of the southwestern corner of Colorado, northwestern corner of New Mexico, northeastern corner of Arizona, and southeastern corner of Utah.

An audience of 50 attendees gathered in the Cinema Hall of LCCC’s Stocker Center to hear her traditional stories on March 11. Included in this group were students from English Professor Kim Karshner’s Children’s Literature class. They shared their thoughts and experience of Dooley’s presentation.

“It was really cool to have Sunny come talk to us about her culture. It was a nice reminder that here in America, we all celebrate different cultures, which are then combined to create our great, big American culture.” – Lexie Elswick

“I enjoyed hearing the history behind basket weaving in the Navajo culture and how the basket tells a story. I’d like to learn more about Navajo people and other Native American cultures.” –Anna Tumbas

“I loved listening to Sunny speak. I took away this beautiful notion that her ancestors lived for her, and now they know just what words she needs to speak in her stories. I actually wrote down a few things she said that seemed so simple, but were utterly profound. One of the most touching things she said was, ‘I am the prayers of my ancestors’.” – Isabel Billinghurst

“I was blown away. I found myself being drawn into the story she was telling and it seemed different than reading a story in a book or watching a movie. It was more personal and intimate. It was like she was taking us on a journey and I began to develop a much greater appreciation for the art of storytelling.” –Hallie Brown

“When looking at Sunny’s basket, it told of her family and her legacy. Many of us just have memories, but Sunny’s was beautifully illustrated in her woven basket.” –Amy Jo West 

“There is a sort of reverence that tends to wash over people when a speaker from another culture presents. Sunny has a way of maintaining that reverence while also giving you the feeling that it is a mutual admiration between our culture and hers.”- Jenelle Rodriguez

“Sunny was very warm and inviting. She became a bridge between her culture and ours, allowing us to learn. Hearing about all the different ceremonies, beliefs, and cultural differences was amazing. Hearing her speak made you feel like she was an old friend.”- Sidney Handyside 

“[Sunny’s] ancestors sat proudly on the rims of her ears and told her exactly what we needed to hear. At times, she truly seemed to be speaking directly to me, for my personal beliefs. She so effortlessly touched on many things that had been on my mind or that I had overheard in the few days prior. Though she’d say she was ‘just talking,’ she talked about exactly what needed to be talked about.” –Zachary Rofe 

Alex Delaney-Gesing contributed to this article.