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Finding D-QU: The Lonely Struggle of California's only Tribal College
Producer: Chris Newman
26 minutes

Finding D-QU: The Lonely Struggle of California's only Tribal College

In 2005, D-Q University, California’s only tribal college, was shut down after a 35-year struggle. Since then, the school’s board of trustees, past students, and community members have tried to reopen the school against all odds. This 30-minute video documentary is structured around a group of occupants who illegally live at the closed D-QU campus amid threats of arrest by the school’s board of trustees. FINDING D-QU looks at the often-conflictive relationship between the board and the occupants. This current struggle frames the history of the school, beginning with D-QU’s establishment in the midst of civil rights activism in the late 1960s. The documentary outlines the original vision of D-QU as a space for self-determined higher education and the hope this dream brought to its many students. The film illustrates the ways in which D-QU’s ongoing struggles reflect pressing issues in other American Indian communities.

FINDING D-QU provides a lens through which to critically examine the wider American Indian movement toward self-determination and sovereignty in its historical context and as it exists today. FINDING D-QU focuses on the historical struggle to maintain a self-reliant educational institution for Indian students and the hardships, successes and failures that come with the movement to reclaim education for Native people. The documentary explores questions concerning past struggles at D-QU, the current situation and the possible future of California’s tribal college. The history of DQ-University reveals that the original people of the Americas continue to struggle to decolonize their culture, traditions and educational systems.
Pricing & Ordering
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Higher Education Institutions DVD Sale $200.00
K-12, Public Libraries & Select Groups DVD Sale $60.00
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"FINDING D-QU speaks powerfully and visually to a dream that has been persistently deferred--self-determined higher education by and for Native Americans." - Renee Tajima-Peña, Oscar Nominated Filmmaker
"With a poetic eye, Newman chronicles the history and dissolution of D-Q University, a bold experiment in pan-tribal education. In addition to interviewing today's student leaders, Alcatraz veterans, and tribal board members, Newman has researched archival footage to show poignantly what's been lost. His elegy for a dream, FINDING D-QU is a testament to solidarity and the quest for Native learning, culture, and dignity." - B. Ruby Rich, Film Critic
"Christopher Newman, a former Davisite now living in San Francisco, visited D-Q University as a child, with his third grade class, to learn about the history of Native American tribes in our area. He remembers the campus in its heyday: "hustling and bustling," and filled with students wearing backpacks. Not until 2007, while thinking about making a film for his master's thesis project in the UC Santa Cruz social documentation program, did he decide to film something local. He learned of D-QU's 2005 closure, and the occupation of the university grounds by students. As he began to do research, his planned 7-minute film blossomed to 26 minutes. "The school's history was so compelling, that the story grew from there," he said. "I also found archival footage and newspaper articles that helped to tell the story on film." FINDING D-QU explores stories of hope, healing and conflict that arise as D-Q University's supporters fight to hold onto a dream that never was fully realized. Will D-QU collapse, or will the vision of self-reliant education somehow be fulfilled?" - The Davis Enterprise
"…A good addition for Amerindian studies collections. Recommended." - C. Cassady, Video Librarian
• Slamdance Film Festival, Park City, Utah, World Premiere
• Davis Film Festival, Davis, California
• Sacramento International Film Festival, Sacramento, California
• Humboldt Film Festival, Humboldt, California
• Santa Cruz Film Festival, Santa Cruz, California
• Cine Las Americas International Film Festival, Austin, Texas
• DocMiami International Film Festival, Miami, Florida
• San Francisco Frozen Film Festival, San Francisco, California
• American Indian Film Festival, San Francisco, California
• Society for Visual Anthropology Film, Video and Interactive Media Festival, New Orleans, Louisiana

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TWN acknowledges that in New York we are on the unceded territory of the Lenni Lenape, Canarsie, Shinecock, and Munsee peoples and challenges the harm that continues to be inflicted upon Indigenous and People of Color communities here and abroad, which is why we all need to be part of the struggle for rights, equality and justice.

TWN is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Color Congress, MOSAIC, New York Community Trust, Peace Development Fund, Ford Foundation, Golden Globe Foundation, Kolibri Foundation and individual donors.