Thursday, February 21, 2008


Yolo County, California Sheriff's deputies arrested three men, Manuel Santana, 24, Daniel Cory, 21, and Christopher Yazzie, 26 at Deganawidah-Quetzalcoatl (DQ) University on Wednesday and removed other students from the campus. The students have been "illegally" on the campus for several years and have been holding informal classes in American Indian culture.

Since 2005 when the university lost its accreditation its Board has been at odds over how to handle the protesting students.

Also since then, students have lived on campus and tried to keep the school going. "Currently, the students are the only ones running programs at the school," student Lupita Torres said. "We have an indigenous perma-culture class. We have a bio-diesel program that's starting up."

A little less than 40 years ago, when the United States Strategic Air Command Communication Center located at the current site of DQ was shut down a group of Indians and Chicanos scaled the fences and took it over and formed DQU. The organizers of the take over applied to use closed base, based on a law which required surplus federal land be returned to Native Americans. The application was initially denied, but after a series of protests, the University of California withdrew its application to use the site for its Native American Studies program and a primate lab, and D-Q University was conditionally granted the land in 1970.

Later, it was formally decided that it should be "a tribal college" and has been ever since, save the periods recently when it has not been operating at all.

The purpose of D-Q University was to provide alternative ideas and methods of education to Native American people. Among its goals were the preservation and re-institutionalization of traditional Native American values, the perpetuation and exercise of Native American religion and beliefs, the establishment of a Native American Research Institute, the development of field-based educational delivery systems to Native Americans who cannot attend the school itself, and the maintenance of social and personal support systems for D-Q students and staff.

DQ has had a troubled history. It is the state's only American-Indian-controlled institution of higher learning located outside of a reservation. It came under American Indian control in 1978, and remained in trust until 2001, when a Board of Trustees was created.

The school lost its major source of funding, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, in 2004, when the agency claimed its American Indian enrollment dropped below 51 percent. It then lost its accreditation with the state in January 2005. A lawsuit eventually transferred power to the current Board of Trustees.

Students at the time accused trustees of misallocating federal funds.

Last Saturday tensions increased during a public board meeting when the students tried to bring cameras to the public board meeting. The board objected to the cameras.

Members of the board then allegedly assaulted the students grabbing them by the arms and trying to seize a camera. One of the witnesses believes that a student has actually filed charges against the board for that alleged assault.

And then came Wednesday.

"I just woke up and the board members were sitting outside," said Steven Kee, a 25-year-old student. He claimed 10 to 15 students locked themselves inside a dorm while another student tried to reason with the deputies. "They wouldn't show us any papers at all, warrants, nothing. They were saying, you guys are trespassers," according to Kee.

Within minutes, Kee said deputies slapped handcuffs on four students. Kee said, "The students weren't acting violent or anything and [the deputies] just jumped on them."

A female student described one arrest to the Vanguard of Davis, "They were very forceful. Five cops took him down and he's a very skinny, passive, gentle young person and he didn't even resist or anything at all. They just arrested him along with two other students." She added, "I'm not sure why trespassing, we have as much right to be here as the board does. There's not any law or treaty that states that we cannot be here. So I'm not sure what grounds they were arrested on."

The Woodland, California News reports University Trustees Jane Elliot, Margaret Hoaglin and Shirley Lincoln arrived sometime between 10 and 10:30 a.m. Wednesday and conducted a citizen's arrest, claiming the students were trespassing, said Calvin Hedrick, the Board of Trustees' president. The three trustees then called sheriff's deputies.

The deputies arrived at about 11 a.m. and attempted to group all of the students together. Christopher Yazzie, 26, who has lived at the site for about a year, was surrounded by deputies for refusing their request to leave. Manuel Santana, 24, and Daniel Cory, 21, were also arrested. They were booked on misdemeanor trespassing, said Michele Wallace, the Yolo County Sheriff's Department public information officer.

"(The Board) has proven again there's no respect for students here," Frease said. "Local tribes are trying to support us, but this board has no financial accountability."

Lupita Torres, 26, from San Jose, said the board has a history of harassing students, noting when the students faced down Sheriff's deputies in 2005 in the face of eviction notices. She defended what she considered the peaceful actions and said Yazzie did not try to resist arrest. She came from San Jose after receiving text messages on her cell phone from Yazzie.

The exact reason for the students' removal isn't clear.

Reached later by phone, Hedrick said he could only speculate as to why the three board members decided to take matters into their own hands.

"I was under the impression we were straightening things out," he said.

There was frustration on both sides, Hedrick said. Communication was rough between the students and the board, and it was difficult to keep track of who was actually on the campus at any given time. The students also attended a board meeting this past Saturday, bringing cameras with them to record the event. However, one of the board members became angry and grabbed one of the students. She later pushed the camera away, the video showed.

Wallace said deputies were asked to remove "squatters." However, Hedrick said one of the arrested students, Yazzie, was under a verbal agreement with the Board of Trustees to remain on the campus as an informal groundskeeper.

Hedrick said he is frustrated. The three board members acted without telling him, he said, and there is a clear division between them.

Meanwhile, students said they won't be deterred by the threat of more arrests. They vow to keep fighting. "It's not going to stop us," said Torres. "We're going to continue to be here. We have just as much right to be here as they do."

The students are committed to the pursuit of an indigenous education while working towards the future as they honor the past.

Just one week ago, the Longest Walk 2 began its historic journey from DQ University, home of the Longest Walk. The Longest Walk 2 has pledged its support of DQU and the students there, recognizing the value and significance of Tribal Education and the history of DQ University.

This story is taken from the Sacremento Bee.

Eviction ends D-Q protest
By Stephen Magagnini

The occupation of D-Q University, the troubled tribal college seven miles west of Davis, ended abruptly Wednesday morning when Yolo County sheriff's deputies arrested three self-described students for trespassing.

About a dozen former students have been occupying the dorms at D-Q and holding their own classes since the two-year college lost its accreditation and federal funding in 2005 over financial and enrollment problems.

Several members of the university's board – concerned about safety and liability issues and a mounting electric bill – asked the sheriff to evict the "squatters" Wednesday without notifying board Chairman Calvin Hedrick.

"This action was taken without my knowledge or approval," a furious Hedrick said. "I'm very frustrated that this is happening because I'd just spoken with the students Wednesday and tried to find some common ground so we could definitely be working together."

Board Vice Chairwoman Jane Elliott, who authorized the evictions, said in a statement: "We have no other alternative but to ensure the safety and well being of those individuals who now reside at D-Q University. There is no heat and there is no hot water. Currently the campus cannot accommodate healthy living conditions."

Greg Iron, a Crowcreek/ Lower Brule Indian who enrolled at D-Q in August 2004, said he and more than a dozen other students have "been trying to keep the school open."

Iron, 27, said they have been holding classes on indigenous farming and alternative energy to meet the requirements of the school's federal charter, which says classes must be ongoing.

Board trustees, he said, "haven't been holding their courses there, so students have to do it to be in compliance," he said. "The students have been out there tirelessly helping the school … to make sure D-Q could exist, and it's wrong for them to treat their youth like this."

Elliott said the new board of trustees has "developed an academic plan for initiating approved classes at D-Q University," including a class on building model homes and a paralegal project. For the past three years, she said, "there have been numerous failed attempts to remove all unauthorized individuals who have identified themselves as D-Q students."

Susan Reece, a former D-Q board member who's a consultant to the current board, said the evictions were long overdue. About 20 of the D-Q squatters – some of whom arrived recently – had stormed Saturday's board meeting and "started yelling and screaming" when the board wouldn't let them film the meeting, Reece said.

"Some misrepresented themselves as students when they're not," Reece said. "They've been unauthorized for three years."

Reece said the board has been trying for months to get the squatters out. "There are huge liability issues and a whole litany of health and safety concerns – it's miraculous that we haven't had a fatality or serious injury out there," she said.

Reece said the squatters ran up a $4,000 electric bill last month.

Sheriff's public information officer Michele Wallace said a member of D-Q's governing board – who had obtained court papers showing the board had the legal right to the property – asked deputies to ask the trespassers to leave Wednesday. While most left voluntarily, three who didn't were arrested on a trespassing charge.

Manuel Santana, 24, Daniel Cory, 21, and Christopher Yazzie, 26, were booked on misdemeanor trespassing charges and released with a notice to appear before a judge, Wallace said.

"We don't know if they're students or squatters, but they had no legal standing to stay on the property," Wallace said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have plagiarized a lot of this content from the Daily Democrat. It should be removed.