D-Q University looking north from 1000'. D-Q University Sign off of County Road 31 heading West.

33250 County Road 31
(to the west, more than halfway to Winters)
Mailing Address
P.O Box 409, Davis, CA 95617
(530) 628-3777
[email protected]
(530) 758-4891

2011 News

  • Lehman Brightman, a leading Native American activist and academician, currently on the curriculum committee, suffered a massive stroke on Friday July 22. Shortly after, his condition was listed as "terminal," but with prayers his condition has improved. His son, Quanah Parker Brightman, stated on his Facebook page, "Our primary focus is on Dr. Brightman's full recovery and therefore, we have made the decision to cancel the 41st Anniversary of the Historical Reclaiming of Our Sacred Black Hills originally scheduled for August 29, 2011."
  • CIEA & UNA's Meeting With The U.S. Department of Education on Re-opening & Re-accrediting D-Q University United Native Americans at The U.S. Department of Education. Urban Indian Education Listening and Learning Session- Stockton, CA Friday May 6th 2011 UNA Decolonizing The Western Educational System. The Conference went well. A lot of Educators Addressed The Educational Issues Affecting Our Indian Children in Public School's. The Department of Education Needs to Implement The Native American Studies Program in All K-12 Public School's. Develop & Implement Pro-Indian History & Social Studies Book's For Indian & Non-Indian Children to Teach Cultural Acceptance of The First Nations People of The Americas. Also, UNA & CIEA Spoke Up For The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) in Washington D.C. To Restore Federal Funding to California's One & Only Intertribal College D-Q University."

Few people are aware that there were two universities in and near Davis. The "other" one was D-Q University, a tribal community college that had a focus on indigenous peoples. It was the only tribal university in California and faced severe financial and accreditation issues. Founded in 1971, it was the only indigenous-controlled institution of higher learning located outside a reservation.

According to the DQU website, The "D" stands for the name of The Great Peacemaker who inspired the founding of the Iroquois Confederacy; the full name symbolized by the "D" is used only in a religious context. The "Q" represents Quetzalcoatl, an Aztec prophet, who symbolizes the principles of wisdom and self-discipline. One goal of the school was to unite people of Native American and Chicano ancestries, and so the usage of these two names together was reflective of a desire to blend traditions.

The Board of Trustees meets every third Saturday of the month at the main campus; committees are forming.

The Indian Health Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, wanted to, but has changed their mind, build a 32-bed drug treatment center on 12 acres of the school's 642 acres. The project would cost $17.6 million to plan and finish, and would serve drug and alcohol abusers ages 12 to 17 starting in mid-2014. The land is owned by the U.S. General Services Department but held in trust by D-Q University, which would have to sign on to the project. When the members of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors first heard the idea in March 2011, they liked it, but in April 2011 they agreed to kick the issue to a two-member subcommittee made up of supervisors Jim Provenza and Don Saylor. Concerns have been raised about using up prime agricultural land; some have suggested putting the facility in an urban area, or adjacent to the University, or at least in some area that is already developed.

As a funny little side note, there's some confusion surrounding the ZIP code for its physical location (not the PO box mailing address, listed above). ZIP code maps place it in 95695, one of Woodland's ZIP codes; it doesn't show up in the USPS database, and a phone call to the Post Office found that the address didn't show up in their database there, either. When asked about the ZIP for DQ University, however, the postmaster said it is 95618—a code which is generally on the east side of town. Is it a confusing system? A massive conspiracy? A racist marginalization of the tribal community? Perhaps we'll never know...

Accreditation, Legal, and Financial Issues

The school was in the news after it lost its accreditation in January of 2005. The school then closed down amid various political problems, misallocation of funds, and a battle between two boards of directors for control. The issue was settled when a judge reappointed the original board as the legal trustees of the school. They lost substantial funding when their Indian enrollment dropped below 51%. Most of the students are Hispanic. According to a December 4, 2008 article in the Davis Enterprise, D-Q University is back on the road to full fledged service; it has met the conditions required to keep the land that the shuttered tribal college was in jeopardy of losing (namely, showing that the land was being used for educational purposes given that some of it is being used for agricultural puposes). The article further states that D-Q U is not yet offering traditional college courses for undergraduates, but rather seminars and workshops on occupational skills and environmental planning for tribal employees in the state.

Although the school has remained largely inoperative since 2005, there has been much conflict over the property and its continued management. A group of students and their supporters formed the D-Q Unity Coalition which challenged the authority of the presiding Board of Trustees. The Coalition charged that the Board had misused funds, regularly missed scheduled meetings, and exhibited a general lack of concern for the school's well-being. Coalition members also believed that the acting Board was completely invalid. Tensions grew as students who lived on campus began to confront the board members. A claim of assault was alleged by a student who videotaped an altercation involving herself and another woman, but it was later dismissed by a judge.

In 2009, a documentary entitled Finding D-QU: The Lonely Struggle of California's Only Tribal College was released. The subject matter of the film deals with the challenges the school has faced throughout the years.

In the News


The desire for a Native American university can be traced back to the writings of Jack Forbes in the 1960s. Forbes, who was also a professor at UC Davis, eventually became a co-founder of DQU. Other founders include David Risling and Carl Gorman.

Forbes had originally advocated for the inclusion of Native American Studies programs in existing universities. When his proposals largely fell upon deaf ears, he formed a committee for the establishment of an actual university. When a Army communications facility near Davis was decommissioned in 1970, the committee filed an application to use the land for a school. UC Davis filed a competing application for the space, and scandal erupted when Senator George Murphy publicly revealed, while the applications were still supposed to be under review, that the land would be going to UCD. The resulting backlash caused UCD to withdraw its application amidst speculation of back-room dealings.

Feeling that the officials had corrupted the process, supporters of the DQU movement began physically occupying the grounds of the former Army facility. By citing the 1868 Treaty of Laramie, the Native Americans claimed that the disused federal property should be given back to the indigenous people, as per their interpretation of the law. After negotiation with the Federal Government, usage of the land was granted to DQU for as long as it could continue to operate as an educational institution.

Interestingly enough, the Native American occupation of San Francisco's Alcatraz took place at roughly the same time as the DQU occupation. Some of the Alcatraz occupiers came to the Davis area upon hearing of the similar undertaking.

DQU's first open house in Sept 1971 was big news in Davis. Stories from the Sept 23, 2007 Davis Enterprise.

Reverend Jesse Jackson visited the campus in 1997 to speak on civil rights. From there he lead a march to Davis.

It appears that in 2011 a new Board of Trustees has evolved due to the replacement process. That opens the possibility for greater accomplishment.

For those looking for information on internet cache sites, their old website was www.dqu.cc.ca.us



Barbeques, drum dancing, stories of Deganawidah and Quetzalcoatl, and a rep from Governor Reagan's office were all part of the first Indian Day Indian Day will be celebrated from 1 p.m. until as far into the night as people want to go


  • 1971 Students hop fence and claim unused military property. After lengthy negotiations, US government awards D-Q University title to the land.
  • 1975 Dennis Banks becomes first Native American chancellor.
  • 1978-11-04 School becomes Indian-controlled.
  • 1984 Dennis Banks leaves for New York to avoid possible extradition.
  • 2005-01-12 The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges drops D-Q's accreditation.
  • 2005-01-28 Officials announce university shut-down.
  • 2005-03-09 Students defy order to leave, and remain in the dorms.
  • 2005-04-13 Yolo County Superior Court Judge David Rosenberg has issued a temporary restraining order that appoints the original board of trustees as being in charge of University affairs. This resolves a power struggle between the original and a new board that had attempted to gain control over University affairs.
  • 2005-05-17 A Yolo Superior Court Judge rules that previous board is only valid one.
  • 2005-09-19 DQU officially reopens. They are working hard to regain their reputation.
  • 2005-11-03 Supporters walk seven miles down County Road 31 to commemorate 35 years of struggle.
  • 2005-11-12 Veterans Day powwow.
  • 2006-01-28 Healing dance, spring classes begin.
  • 2006-03-14 Protesters demonstrate unjust expulsions and evictions from D-Q.
  • 2008-03-31 Remaining students and Elders are removed from the D-Q premises by the Board of Trustees with the assistance of the Yolo County Sheriff's Department.
  • Sometime prior to 2008-07-23, the University closed (confirmed by the Davis Chamber of Commerce and the City of Davis).
  • 2009 Documentary film Finding D-QU: The Lonely Struggle of California's Only Tribal College is released and tours the national film festival circuit.


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I totally thought this was a Dairy Queen University of some kind, i was like what the...? —DomenicSantangelo

Their website says, The "D" stands for the name of the Great Peacemaker who inspired the founding of the Iroquois Confederacy; the full name symbolized by the "D" is used only in a religious context. The "Q" represents Quetzalcoatl, an Aztec prophet, who symbolizes the principles of wisdom and self-discipline". Does this mean that it is improper or blasphemous to give the information on the D-Q name as to the "D" part? —jr

  • Yes, I've read this numerous times. I think it would be respectful to delete the spelled-out word, although we could leave the link. — DougWalter

    It's not a religious thing as much as it is an honor thing. They prefer to call him the great peace maker instead of his name out of respect for him and his work. It's not blasphemy like vocalizing the tetragrammation. -wl

2009-02-19 16:11:07   Whoever writes and/or maintains the information presented on this page needs to include (aat the very least) a thumbnail sketch of the school's very turbulent history from 2005 to 2009. ALSO: the article from the Davis Enterprise newspaper (as reproduced above) tells only part of the real story. Very little is to be learned from the person quoted in Sharon Stello's article. Susan Reece is not even a member of the D-Q University Board of Trustees. In the article, she merely mouths The Official Party Line from the point-of-view of the VERY corrupt little circle of American Indian people who claim to be the school's legal representatives. The General Services Administration is correspondingly clueless: it is plain to see that the GSA's public relations department has swallowed Reece's burlesque act, hook, line, and sinker. The American Indian activist community has consistently given the Davis Enterprise miserably-low ratings for its' very one-sided "coverage" of the Land and Leadership Controversy at D-Q University. *from: Mr. Steve Jerome-Wyatt, former twice-elected, President of the D-Q University Associated Student Body Governmnet, (1997-98) and Acknowledged Spokesman for the Affiliated Obsidian Nation in Davis, CA. —deepbluedream

2009-09-26 16:46:04   Recently, a letter addressed to the DQ University Board of Trustees has been circulated throughout the community. The letter was written by Pat Wright in support of her husband, Bill Wright (Wintun/Patwin), and his perceived role as an “Indian doctor” at DQ University.

Mrs. Wright states that she and her husband have invested a great deal of “time and energy” at DQ over the past 25 years, and she goes on to infer that since the school is situated on land within the historic territory of the Wintun/ Patwin tribes, that Mr. Wright should have religious oversight at the institution; an authority that Mrs. Wright refers to in the letter as the “hierarchy of territory.”

While I respect Mr. Wright and support his dedication to the spiritual needs of members of the California Indian community, I must take issue with Mrs. Wright’s assessment of any so-called religious “hierarchy” at DQ University.

Mrs. Wright does not seem to understand DQ’s complicated history, or the initial guidelines and objectives set in place during the institution’s founding. DQ was not established solely as an institution for California Indians, but for Indians of all nations. This is an important fact that can easily be found in the school’s charter. I know this to be true because I have been working at DQ University since 1974 – some ten years before Mr. Wright ever appeared on the scene.

DQ University was founded in 1971 to provide a more appropriate, culturally-sensitive method of education for Native American students. It was one of the first six American Indian colleges in the United States. Among its educational objectives, the preservation of traditional Native religious values and practices was a major priority.

The story of Native Americans in California began with the indigenous people who lived here in harmony for thousands of years before Europeans and Americans disrupted the balanced system within which these people lived. But the story did not end there. In the twentieth century, it came to include members of other tribes sent into the region as well. Being compelled to share territory is not a phenomenon exclusive to California Indians – it is just one part of the removal / relocation of Native people from ancestral homelands that has taken place on a nationwide basis.

DQ University was founded during the Era of Termination and Relocation in the wake of the BIA’s Urban Indian Relocation Program. Under the auspices of this program, over 100,000 American Indians were relocated from their homes on rural reservations and in tribal communities across the United States to urban areas. A few cities within the state of California, specifically Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose were designated as new home sites for thousands of these displaced, intertribal Native people.

It was these Indians, from tribally-diverse backgrounds, who sought out a special place where they would be able to establish a more valuable form of culturally-based education; one that included Native history, language, culture, and spirituality in order to help prepare Indian students for the multi-cultural world, while at the same time, supporting their distinctive tribal identities. As such, DQ became part of the first American Indian Higher Education Consortium in 1972.

These new urban Indians utilized the same strategy to obtain the site upon which DQ stands as they did in their quest to bring attention to the treaty violations of the federal government during the occupation of Alcatraz Island. They used the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie between the U.S. and the Sioux Nation, which mandates that any federal property initially taken from Indian people must be returned to them if the government ceases to use it or abandons the property. DQ is the decommissioned site of the U.S. Army West Coast Relay and Radio Transmitting Station. Native American access to the site was initially denied, but our people conducted a series of protests and access was finally granted in 1970. The school opened in 1971 obtaining accreditation in 1977.

Mr. and Mrs. Wright state that, in their opinion, sweats should be “conducted by a competent leader, because what happens in the sweat lodge reflects back on all aspects of DQU.” I was raised traditionally and have conducted Inipi ceremonies since I was a very young man. It is a responsibility that I take very seriously. I guard the proceedings at the sweat lodge very carefully, protecting the rite from any inappropriate influences.

For that reason, under the administration of Dave Risling, I was asked to fill the position of cultural advisor at DQ, and in fulfillment of that request, I presided over sweat lodge activities at the school for over three decades. I was also employed as a traditional councilor by Oakland IHS, and ran sweats there for many years.

While it is true that Inipi has been adopted as a method of prayer for a number of intertribal purposes, I am deeply offended by Mr. and Mrs. Wright’s description of it as a “generic ceremony.” There is nothing generic in the spiritual and physical healing that occurs as a result of participation in an Inipi. For many American Indians in California, especially those who have been transplanted to the state from their native homelands, the Inipi also represents cultural persistence and empowerment – a chance to practice their religious traditions away from home. Many of these people need the continued stability and spiritual outlet the sweat lodge provides. Now, that option-the most successful operation DQ has ever known - has been taken from the people. Taking this from them is tantamount to denying them religious freedom.

Finally, I want to point to Mr. and Mrs. Wright’s statement, that as a part of the larger community of California Indians, they “hold the dream of one day seeing a university that celebrates the tribes of California,” and that “DQ could become a model for the preservation of California tribal languages and cultures.”

While I agree that this is a beautiful and worthwhile dream, I must reiterate the fact that DQ University was not created for the purpose of serving California Indians alone, and it was not only California Indians who worked to establish the institution in the first place, or who struggled to support and maintain the school over the past thirty years. DQ has always been a place for Indians of all tribes, and must continue to be so. Any attempt to initiate any sort of tribal hierarchy, or to specify one tribal tradition over another defeats the institution’s entire founding purposes. In my opinion, doing so will bring about the final downfall of DQ University.


Darrell Standing Elk

Sicangu Lakota

Note: On August 5, 2009 the DQ Board of Trustees ordered the sweat lodge at DQU closed and sent police to interrupt the Inipi ceremony that was already in progress. Those gathered for prayer were ordered off the premises and forced to leave the Inipi fire burning.


2010-07-07 20:41:40   I flew over DQ University last night at about 700 feet and got a good look at it. There is a very well defined security perimeter with a built-up fenceline and light standards at regular intervals completely encircling the grounds. It looks more like a military or detention compound than a college. Does anyone know what the area was before it was DQ University? —JimStewart

  • Nevermind. A little googling shows that in 1952 the US Army built the Sacramento Valley Radio Transmitter Station there and vacated it in 1970. The DQU Phase One Environmental Assessment.pdf offers some interesting information about the site.

2010-10-25 16:40:25   I took out the spelled out name of the Great Peace Maker as is requested on the DQU website... Out of respect for him and his work. —DerekDowney