Wednesday, March 13, 2013
"THE CREATION OF D-Q UNIVERSITY" transcribed by Steven Payan
"THE DEVELOPMENT OF A NATIVE AMERICAN INTELLIGENTSIA AND THE CREATION OF D-Q UNIVERSITY" by JACK D. FORBES (D-Q U Founder)
PUBLISHED IN HARTMUT LUTZ, ED., D-Q UNIVERSITY: NATIVE AMERICAN SELF-DETERMINATION IN HIGHER EDUCATION
(DAVIS: TECUMSEH CENTER, 1980)
*Disclaimer: This Document was retyped and condensed because the original was 28 pages typed and had many words were cut off. For access of or for more Info regarding Original Documents of D-Q University visit [http://nas.ucdavis.edu/Forbes/resources.html]
The Creation of D-Q University
It was within this context that the concept of an Indian-controlled university was conceived by this writer and others in 1961-1962. From the very beginning the university (called at first "The Indo-American University," then "The Native American University," and finally, in 1970-1971, D-Q University) was conceived as an integral part of a national liberation struggle for the Indian race.
Needless to state this is also a key reason why D-Q U has been vigorously opposed by white agencies and by the colonialized Indian intelligentsia. D-Q is the only Native college openly dedicated to pan-Indian liberation.
What does this mean? From 1970-71 onward the university described itself as pan-Indian, that is, as embracing (in theory) the entire Native race from Alaska and Greenland to the very tip of South America. This concept must have upset those people who wanted Native people to think of themselves as "United States Indians" whose very identity is dependent upon the BIA colonial system.
For years Native Americans have been told to forget their Canadian, Mexican, Peruvian, Guatemalan, Bolivian and Paraguayan Native brothers and sisters! Not only that, but they have been told to forget about eastern Indians ("State" Indians), "terminated" Indians, and landless (unrecognized) Indians. They have been told to forget about Indians who are part-Black, and Indians who speak Spanish. They have been taught to accept white-looking persons of fractional Indian blood who speak only English (so long as they are good BIA recognized people) while at the same to reject full-blood Mexican Indians who can speak an Indian tongue!
And, of course, white racism has programmed most Indians to accept white mixture and to reject Black mixture even though traditional African tribal cultures are closer to our own heritages than are most European cultures. All of this, of course, has been a clever colonial strategy designed to split the Native race into as many factions as possible and to persuade us to accept as permanent the armed conquest of the Native nations. D-Q U, by embracing pan-Indianism and by ignoring so-called international boundaries, broke the ground-rules laid down by U.S. colonialism. Of course, D-Q U had to break those ground-rules. A patriotic native intelligentsia cannot be developed at all unless someone breaks the rules set by the oppressors. Colonialists fear and despise native patriotism and their rules are designed to destroy the self-identity of the conquered people.
In any case, the originators of the D-Q U concept were extremely aware of the need to do two things: (1) to empower and strengthen the traditionalist intelligentsia already existing at the grassroots level, and (2) to train younger people in such a way so that they would be able to return to their communities and lead the intellectual and creative struggle for liberation, always in conjunction with the traditional elders.
Naturally, this philosophy, so necessary for a national reawakening, can be expected to arouse the wrath of Indians who are elitists and “assimilationists” or of those who continue to be loyal to the colonial system. Still further, it can be expected to antagonize the white churches, the white government agencies, and the white foundations controlled by corporate executives.
In short, the idea of creating a university dedicated to a national reawakening within territory controlled by powerful groups opposed to such a reawakening is, to say the very least, a radical concept and one sure to arouse continued and obstinate opposition.
Such has, indeed, been the case.
Before proceeding it is necessary, however, to note that not all Indians have seen the wisdom of establishing such a university. In fact, most Indians in leadership positions do not even see the need for an independent Native intelligentsia.
Since the late 1960’s the vast majority of Indians, guided perhaps by the funding policies of white government agencies and foundations, have concentrated upon the development of a series of "tribally-controlled" junior colleges or "Native American Studies" programs in white universities. Admirable as these developments may be (when compared with earlier conditions) they do not in themselves guarantee the creation of an intellectually 1iberated Native intelligentsia.
Junior (two-year) colleges are ordinarily concerned primarily with "vocational" and remedial training, especially in many rural parts of the country. Most Indian junior colleges have courses in Native Studies of some sort or in the social sciences or humanities but, of necessity, these classes have to be operated at a very elementary level. In junior colleges teachers usually have a heavy class load, do not do research, and, in general, do not have any opportunity to write or otherwise sharpen their own intellectual insights. Rural colleges, especially, will tend to attract instructors either desperately seeking any kind of a teaching job (however temporary) or ones who are interested primarily in such rural amenities as hunting and fishing. Any ‘higher” intellectual interests will tend, in any case, to become blunted over the years by isolation, poor libraries, and hostile administrators.
In any case, the first two years of college will not normally be the place to develop an Indian intelligentsia unless traditional elders are given a free hand at building the curriculum. Other pressures (for “transfer” credits, vocational skills, etc.) will usually minimize such developments.
Native Studies programs in white universities are few and far between and they are limited, with few exceptions, to only a few western states. In most (or all) instances they are limited in size and must meet criteria set by the ruling white administrators and faculty. In many cases such programs are being forced to admit large percentages of non-Indian students in order to “stay alive” and are changing the internal content of courses to respond to the majority audience.
Indian faculty teaching in white colleges are also forced to write what their white peers consider to be acceptable scholarly or creative works, in order to obtain tenure or promotion. This means that purely Indian works intended for Indian audiences will not be produced, will have to be seriously altered, or will have to be produced “on the side”
Most white universities, still further, will never develop a "critical mass” of Indian faculty. There will usually be one artist, one historian, one political scientist, and so on, so that even if a program has four to six faculty they will always be in different fields. Many colleges, of course, will hire only one or two Indians who will, in turn, be isolated in separate departments.
In many respects, the development of a multitude of separate, isolated two-year Indian colleges is a disservice to the Indian people. Only one or two such colleges can ever develop the size necessary to hire outstanding faculty or to develop a complex program. The tribally-controlled junior colleges can, however, be viewed as an asset if we think of them as meeting strictly vocational-remedial-preparatory needs and if we do not fall under the illusion that they are meeting all of the higher education needs of Indian people.
D-Q University was designed as a four-year school with a graduate program, that is, as a university, precisely because of the above considerations. It was designed to bring together a diverse mix of Native students and scholars in order to facilitate the full-scale evolution of a modern Indian intelligentsia independent of white control.
Unfortunately certain concrete conditions have forced D-Q U to largely concentrate on junior college-level offerings and to neglect formal upper division or graduate training. What are these conditions?
First, the Federal government has forced D-Q U to become "accredited" which means securing at least minimal acceptance by a white-controlled accreditation association. Because of financial constraints D-Q U had to seek junior college accreditation. This, in turn, led to the abandonment of any higher-level work (at the insistence of the junior college accreditation people).
Secondly, the large white foundations have proven to be singularly hostile to the creation of an independent Indian-controlled university. They have withheld funding and thereby have forced D-Q U to seek federal funds primarily.
Thirdly, the large white religious denominations have refused to fund D-Q U for reasons which probably need little explanation. Clearly the "liberalism" of some of the major denominations does not extend so far as to support an independent, non-Christian, educational institution. (Many, of course, support their own Christian colleges for Indians or Blacks.)
Fourthly, the Federal government since Nixon's 1972 electoral victory has turned away from the support of grassroots-controlled programs of all kinds. D-Q U has, in addition, suffered as a specific target of anti-"militant" policies directed at the American Indian Movement. It seems very likely that D-Q U has been "black-balled" by most Federal agencies.
Fifthly, most powerful Indians are themselves linked to the colonial system and are very much afraid of D-Q U. It is clear that some of them have used their positions to block grants to the university.
Nonetheless, D-Q U has had considerable success at stimulating the growth of an Indian intelligentsia but primarily by means of conferences, workshops, meetings, and publications. Since 1972 numerous events at D-Q U have brought together large numbers of Indians and Chicanos to discuss significant topics and especially noteworthy has been the bringing together of traditional elders, college professors, community people, and public school teachers. Truly "advanced" and deep dialogues have occurred in such settings and that may yet prove to be D-Q U's greatest contribution. If there is to be a Native intelligentsia, if it is to grow, and if its products are to be of any value to this generation of Indians we must seriously Insider changing a few things.
First, we must all support D-Q University in its efforts to go beyond junior college programming. The trustees of D-Q U have approved the incorporation of a D-Q U Center for Advanced Studies, a separate school offering graduate degrees. This program will, however, fail unless additional funding located and unless established Indian scholars are willing to work with D-Q graduate students.
Additionally, we should do everything we can to help D-Q develop advance programs in such areas as film-making and television production, creative writing, and Native language literacy. (D-Q U formerly had an excellent Papago literacy program but it lost federal funding at a critical point. D-Q U also helped Zuni get a literacy project established).
Secondly, whether at D-Q U or elsewhere, we need to stimulate the creation of a new style of Native film, one which directly serves the goals of Indian liberation and which uses Native languages as much as possible.
Thirdly, we need to encourage writing in Native languages (unless we’ve decided to become monolingual English-speakers). All of our languages will die if they exist only at the oral level. Many will disappear within the next five to ten years unless massive efforts are made to stimulate learning. Languages which are not used will die unless there is something to be read. People will not learn to read unless there is something to be read.
Fourthly, we need to find ways to bring Native writers, artists, et cetera, together at Indian gatherings (not at white-dominated conferences) i… ___ (original Doc Cut Off a few words) er to stimulate an internal Indian dialogue. More groups need to use the facilities for this purpose.
Fifthly, we need to support the D-Q U University Press and other Indian controlled publishing programs. Moreover we need to develop a national Indian dissemination program that will make Indian books, pamphlets, tapes, records, films, videotapes, et cetera, available on a national basis, reaching every Indian community.
A catalogue of such materials would be a beginning. But beyond that we need to consider ways of developing local programs, such as a "mobile store" owned and operated by a family which reaches all of the pow-wows, conferences, and communities in a given area. Perhaps such mobile stores could provide a family with a livelihood and also result in thorough dissemination.
It is clear that we cannot break into the average white bookstore (most of which are now chain-owned and operated), except under very rare circumstances.
Finally, we must make sure that all BIA schools, Indian-controlled schools, and Title IV education centers purchase Indian-authored materials. This is clearly not the case at present, since the buying power of such agencies, alone, could have made "best-sellers" out of many of our books, pamphlets, cassettes and films.
We still dream of a D-Q University where Indian films are made, where bright young Indians share dialogue with great Indian minds, where books in Native languages are published, where Indian novelists get together to discuss Indian literature, and where the Native intelligentsia has a home-base, secure from white control.
This dream has not been realized yet. A start has been made, but only a start. Will the national Indian community realize before it is too late that the struggle to create D-Q U is central to the Native movement for self determination?
Tribally-controlled junior colleges are popular because they can be operated locally and can fit into the needs of the reservation tribal bureaucracy. Each tribe wants jobs and money flowing into its reservation. A national Indian university is more difficult to create, especially if it tries to meet the needs of grassroots and traditional people as well as those of the emerging Indian middle-class.
Is there an Indian constituency to support a pan-Indian university? Is there an Indian constituency to encourage the development of an independent Indian intelligentsia? What happens with D-Q U will help to answer both of these questions.
Posted by Northbay Uprising Radio at 11:04 PM