Dinée Dorame Helps Tell Runners’ Stories
Dorame started the Grounded Podcast, which explores running, culture, land, and community—and the spaces where they overlap.
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When Dinée Dorame was growing up, her family would run together at night, and her dad was her track coach. Both running and storytelling have long been part of who she is as a Navajo woman. She brought the two together when she started the Grounded Podcast, which explores running, culture, land, and community—and the spaces where they overlap.
“I’ve always lived at the intersection of athletics and culture,” Dorame says. She has a background in journalism and enjoys talking to people as a way to understand them better, in part because she didn’t feel like she fit in when she left New Mexico for college on the East Coast. “I think my way of building community was by talking to my peers, especially other Native students, and learning more about what keeps them literally grounded.”
The Grounded Podcast got off the ground in early 2021, thanks to support from the Tracksmith Fellowship. In nearly a year of hosting the podcast, Dorame has interviewed dozens of runners at all levels of running, both Native and non-Native. She tries to avoid over-planning these conversations or steering them too much, preferring to let the dialogue flow between her and the guest.
When her guests are Native, Dorame wants to “show other people that Native people are multidimensional, and we’re not just here to educate others or teach only about our cultures,” she says. She wants to get into interests, talents, and skills beyond that.
Dorame wants the podcast to represent people as authentically as possible. “I believe representation matters, but I also believe that if systems don’t change behind it, you’re just placing people in a spotlight with no support,” she says. She aims to make sure Grounded guests “feel supported, and they feel like they’re a part of a conversation with me, and they’re not there for me to extract information from them.”
“I’ve experienced a lot of really positive feedback, especially from Native people, and that kind of keeps me going,” Dorame says. A couple of Native studies professors have asked to use her show in their classes, because the podcast has covered important events in Native history, in the context of running and sports, she says.
The podcast allows Dorame to facilitate the storytelling of other Native runners in a way that’s widely accessible, she says. “That’s important to me, to make sure that my family can hear it and my community can hear it.”
In her day job, Dorame is the associate director of College Horizons, a national college access program for Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian high school students and families. This work and the podcast complement each other: Dorame often talks to guests about their experience as collegiate student-athletes. For example, when Navajo pro runner Alvina Begay was on the podcast, “she explained to me what it was like to be a Native runner on her team in college and how, in many ways, that made it difficult to connect with other Native students on campus. But she found her community in her own way,” Dorame says. The podcast often delves into the theme of finding community wherever you go.
Since Dorame started Grounded, she has been injured and unable to run, and she has missed the connection that running provided. But the podcast has helped to fill that void, with all the time she has spent talking with people about running. “The podcast has now become this thing I do to connect to place and people and culture,” she says. “I am grateful that I have this new conversation space and platform . . . because I think it’s helped me understand that the sport will always be there for me in many different forms.”
Dorame is looking forward to expanding the show onto other platforms such as YouTube and TikTok, and trying a live format. Grounded has featured runners ranging from Billy Mills to Latoya Shauntay Snell to Rebecca Mehra, and in future episodes, Dorame hopes to talk to athletes in other sports, as well as artists and creators, about what keeps them grounded.
This profile was first published in the Winter 2022 print issue of Women’s Running as part of “Women Who Lead: Power Women of 2022,” which celebrates 15 women who are reshaping the running industry for the better. You can see the full list of honorees here.