Navajo storyteller, local practitioners to gather at Syracuse University’s Hendricks Chapel for annual storytelling event
Navajo storyteller, local practitioners to gather at Syracuse University’s Hendricks Chapel for annual storytelling eventFebruary 05, 2001Judy Holmesjlholmes@syr.edu
The Third Annual Sojourner Storytelling Conference, “Searching for the Muted Voices,” will be held Feb. 16 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. at Syracuse University’s Hendricks Chapel. The event is free and open to the public. The conference will feature Navajo storyteller Sunny Dooley of Arizona, who will recount traditional stories that have been handed down from one generation to the next in her family, and internationally known activist, actor, producer and director Val Gray Ward of Fayetteville, who will present the poetry of Illinois poet laureate Gwendolyn Brooks, the first African American to receive a Pulitzer Prize. Ward and Brooks, who died in December at age 83, were friends for more than 40 years. In addition, noted storytellers from Syracuse University and the Central New York community will make presentations throughout the day. Dooley, who will present her stories beginning at 11 a.m., is from the Four Corners region of the Southwest, specifically from a community called Chi Chil’ Tah (Where the Oaks Grow). She has been telling the Origin and Creation stories of the Dine’ (Navajo) people for the past nine years. Her stories have been passed down through her matrilineal clan of the Saltwater People Clan. The stories create the worldview of Dooley’s people and their relationship to their surroundings, and share a wisdom and understanding of the past and present, and create linkages to the future. Founder and artistic director of the renowned Kuumba Theatre in Chicago, Ward will discuss Brook’s life and writings, and will read from her works, including several poems Brooks wrote about Ward and her contributions to the cultural life of Chicago and America. Brooks dedicated her autobiography to Ward and her husband, Francis, who is an associate professor in SU’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Since moving to Syracuse from Chicago in 1990, Val Gray Ward has conducted lectures, workshops and performances at schools, churches, colleges and universities, and festivals throughout the United States. In 1998, she produced and starred in the Kuumba production of “The Amen Corner,” written by James Baldwin. She also created and performs “My Soul is a Witness” (formerly “I Am a Black Woman”), a one-woman show in which she portrays 17 characters–men, women and children–and performs jazz, folk, blues and gospel music either solo or with a minimum of three musicians. Ward’s presentation will begin at 7 p.m.
Other storytellers involved in the conference include: — the Rev. Thomas Davenport, interdenominational Protestant chaplain at SU; — Betsy Fuller, a storyteller in the Syracuse City School District; — Rachael Gazdick ’93, deputy director of the Near Eastside Community Development Organization; — Bruce Grieshaber, a Camillus resident and founder of the Jenna Foundation for Non-Violence; — Seth Ruggles Hiler, a junior illustration major in SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts; — the Rev. Frederick (Fritz) Lampe, pastor with SU’s Lutheran Campus Ministry; — Arthur Flowers, author and SU creative writing professor; — Francis McMillan Parks, director of Students Offering Service and African American programs at Hendricks Chapel; and — Doris Sage, a local activist who was imprisoned for her November 1997 protest against the U.S. Army School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga. The storytelling conference is sponsored by Students Offering Service and African American Programs at Hendricks Chapel in cooperation with The College of Arts and Sciences, the SU Student Activities Office, Syracuse University Continuing Education, other University academic and administrative departments, and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. For more information, call 443-1254 or e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org