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Arvcúken Noquisi | Oh-vtvlvketv, To Go Further

Arvcúken Noquisi | Oh-vtvlvketv, To Go Further

American Indian/Alaska Native Ohio State students (2011)
American Indian/Alaska Native Ohio State students (2021)
Decrease in Ohio State Indigenous students in 10 years
Profile photograph of person with a mohawk wearing glasses and a red polo against a graffiti wall

About the Author

Arvcúken Noquisi is an undergraduate fellow in the Global Arts and Humanities' 2021-22 Society of Fellows cohort. A third year undergraduate, Noquisi is double majoring in moving image production and sonic arts. They are Mvskoke and Cherokee and active in student leadership for the Native American and Indigenous Peoples Cohort.

Project Overview

In the face of alarmingly declining Indigenous student population numbers, "Oh-vtvlvketv, To Go Further" documents internal attempts by students to strengthen the Native community at The Ohio State University, and their assertions of self-determination and rejection of Ohio State's imposed extinction. Noquisi utilizes this project to center around the actions taken by the Native American and Indigenous Peoples Cohort (NAIPC) in the 2021-22 school year to reinforce their presence at Ohio State. Noquisi further participates in efforts to strengthen community by compiling Indigenous resources and leadership guidance into an online drive shared among Indigenous students.

Archival illustration of Ohio State campus with text: A-18 Aeroplane View of Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Background: Ohio State and the Morrill Act

As a land-grant institution, The Ohio State University directly benefits from the displacement of Indigenous people and dispossession of their lands. High Country News’ comprehensive report on “Land-Grab Universities” states that, since the 1862 Morrill Land-Grant Act, The Ohio State University has raised $6,849,131 from the 614,165 acres of land it acquired in 1870 (Lee).

This is crucial context to understand Ohio State's contemporary relations with Indigenous people, particularly its Indigenous students. Data from The Ohio State University’s Analysis and Reporting 2021 Trend Tables, produced by the Office of Strategic and Competitive Intelligence, reveals that the number of enrolled American Indian/Alaska Native students at the university has decreased 71% since 2011: from 169 to 49 total Indigenous students at The Ohio State University, across all campuses. In spring of 2022, OSAS reported that there were only 43 Indigenous students enrolled across all campuses of The Ohio State University – out of a total population of 63,962 students.


Acres of land The Ohio State University acquired from the Morrill Act


Profit raised from Morrill Act land (adjusted for inflation)


Indigenous students enrolled at Ohio State in SP'22, out of 63,962 students

The diminishing number of Indigenous students at Ohio State does not correlate with a national decrease in Indigenous populations. Instead, it reflects systemic passivity on the university’s part. Despite directly benefitting from the Morrill Act dispossessing Indigenous people of their lands, Ohio State appears to have no obligation or priority to bring in and retain Indigenous students. Indigenous students are consequentially experiencing a fabricated extinction, predicated on the university not providing necessary resources or support for its community of Indigenous students, staff and faculty.

"Oh-vtvlvketv, To Go Further" records Native resistance to this fabricated extinction – particularly from undergraduate students within the Native American and Indigenous Peoples Cohort. While most of the actions taken revolve around outreach to disrupt settler conceptions of the Indigenous community, Noquisi also utilizes this project opportunity to work internally with NAIPC to bolster documentation of the cohort’s activities and leadership processes – creating and sharing a drive of documents that compile important resources and Indigenous history at the university. This drive is intended to provide a foundation of information to Indigenous students (and therefore is only shared within the community). Its contents are consistently added to and updated by Noquisi and NAIPC leadership, in attempts to provide sustainable information infrastructure to assist future generations of Native students.

“Survivance is an active sense of presence, the continuance of native stories, not a mere reaction, or a survivable name.”

Gerald Vizenor
Manifest Manners: Narratives on Postindian Survivance

Student Resistance

In November of 2021, for Native American Heritage Month, the student leadership of NAIPC became increasingly strained by requests from across the university for interviews, presentations and panel discussions. The requests demanded far more time and labor than the five NAIPC student leaders could provide and often invoked the legacy of settler-colonial extractive relationships to Indigenous cultural knowledge.

At the same time, NAIPC leadership was also approached by members of the Undergraduate Student Government for potential advocacy and legislative efforts on behalf of Indigenous students. In order to ensure the needs and boundaries of Indigenous students were fully understood and documented, NAIPC procured “A Direct Statement from the Indigenous students of the Native American and Indigenous Peoples Cohort (NAIPC)”, drafted on November 12, 2021. Through this document, Indigenous students affirmed their presence and needs beyond superficial gestures, which do not interrogate the systems of neglect that have led to the decline of Ohio State's Indigenous student population.

Further assertions of visibility and specificity of Indigenous student experience were made on December 8, 2021, at the “Indigenous Student, Staff, and Faculty Meet & Greet” hosted by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Noquisi wrote this speech with support from the Multicultural Center's Intercultural Specialist, Madison Eagle. This speech served to redirect the tone of the event toward one of necessity and demand – the three Indigenous undergraduate students attending the event were given greater attention to their experiences and struggles within Ohio State classrooms and student life by those attending from ODI. The long-lasting outcome of these attempts to define and demonstrate Indigenous existence to non-Native audiences is yet undetermined. Thus, internal efforts to bolster community, such as the online drive and many events and activities NAIPC leads for Native students, currently provide a more consistent foundation of support for the community than outreach attempts.


Land Acknowledgement
Office of Diversity and Inclusion

We would like to acknowledge the land that The Ohio State University occupies is the ancestral and contemporary territory of the Shawnee, Potawatomi, Delaware, Miami, Peoria, Seneca, Wyandotte, Ojibwe and Cherokee peoples. Specifically, the university resides on land ceded in the 1795 Treaty of Greeneville and the forced removal of tribes through the Indian Removal Act of 1830. As a land grant institution, we want to honor the resiliency of these tribal nations and recognize the historical contexts that has and continues to affect the Indigenous peoples of this land.

Noquisi would like to specifically thank Melissa Beard Jacob for her efforts in asserting Indigenous presence by writing this land acknowledgement and spreading its usage across The Ohio State University. Mvto.

Works Cited

“If a deliberate effort is not made to seek out and understand the needs of Native students, staff, and faculty, then we are effectively erased from the spaces we participate in, and we become invisible even in attempts by the University to ‘save’ us.”

 From "A Direct Statement from the Indigenous students of the Native American and Indigenous Peoples Cohort"