Woodland Community College has seen a steady increase in Native American student registration according to the August 2004 Yuba Community College District demographic report. This increase can be attributed to the closing of the nearby Deganawidah-Quetzalcoatl University, located on the outskirts of Davis, California, in Yolo County
In an article of the North County Times, Robin Hindery explains, “The D-Q in the university’s name stands for Deganawidah Quetzalcoatl — two iconic native leaders. Deganawidah, also known as ‘The Great Peacemaker,’ was one of the founders of the Iroquois confederacy, a tribal political and cultural union. Quetzalcoatl was the legendary ruler of the Toltecs, a pre-Columbian people who dominated much of central Mexico between the 10th and 12th centuries.”Although the college is named in honor of these leaders, tribal members have said that pronouncing the full name of the university is offensive. It is, therefore, referred to by most as D-Q University.
Before closing, the institution provided dormitories and a place for Native Americans to preserve their values, religion and beliefs while attending class. Classes were based on culture, language, history and the science of tribal people. In 1971, two California-based American Indians applied for the 643-acre property housing a former United States Strategic Air Command Communication Center. When it was discovered that the property would be given to the UC Davis for primate research, several students hopped the fence to the property and conducted a sit-in. Following the law requiring federal land to be returned to Native Americans, the government awarded the property to D-Q University.
Once the university was accredited in 1977, Native American students had the opportunity to attend the two year institution recognized as California’s only tribal college located outside a reservation and the nation’s second oldest.However, by 2004 the University was in trouble, with the high turnover rate of three university presidents within two months.
A week before the start of the spring semester in January, 2005, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, a branch of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, revoked the school’s accreditation. Reports claim that this was due to a declining enrollment, untrained personnel, small board and financial difficulties.When the enrollment of federally recognized tribal members dipped below 51 percent the Bureau of Indian Affairs revoked funding for the university.
Several students, who moved from as far as Alaska and New Mexico to attend the University, discovered at the last minute that they were suddenly without a school, home and even financial assistance.
Although the university could no longer hold classes, students remained in the dormitories until the school could no longer pay the power bill. A few students remained until March, even after the electricity for the dormitory was shut off.By April, 2005, university president Arthur Apodaca was looking for ways to keep the remaining 50 students in accredited classes. A “D-Q Renaissance Team” was constructed.
The administration, students and volunteers were looking forward to revamping the university and essentially earning back the funding and accreditation. However, after 35 years of operation, with only six students remaining, the university officially closed its doors in August 2006.
As a result, WCC, which lies within the surrounding Yolo area, has seen a new surge of Native American and Chicano students from D-Q University.