Thinking Indigenous started in response to the Generation Indigenous White House initiative in May 2015.

The original submission piece remains as part of an archived mission statement written by Celeste Kimimila Terry.

As the Native youth council and board of directors begin to further mold a foundation for future members this remains as the first official document declaring the need for native youth cooperatives led by native youth and mentored by our elders.

Celeste Kimimila Terry of the Lakota Oyate, 24, founded AIYN on May 15, 2015 when she was 22, with her birthday falling the next day. This was an opportunity that she saw to be able to work and connect with other native youth in her community, and her relative’s communities. Ms. Terry was inspired by the incredible native youth and role models working to improve the lives of those around them. After hearing about the Generation Indigenous initiative from the White House administration she was compelled to build a network of native youth, scholars and professionals that was not only created by native youth but also led by native youth.
These efforts could not be done alone and her skills to offer were 10 years of web development experience. With lack of knowledge in non-profit management, Celeste enrolled at Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2015 and has since been pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Indigenous Applied Law and Science through the Individualized Degree Program. She continues to serves as the Chief Executive Officer for Thinking Indigenous and teaching native students coding/programming after school.
Mr. Ramon Montano, is a young motivated indigenous man coming from the Kickapoo, Kumeyaay and Pa’Ipai tribal nations. Mr. Montano’s aspiration of becoming an educator have led him into multiple initiatives that are preparing him to be a well educated educator who’s goals and mission are student success by working hand in hand with parents, families and communities, He likes to consider himself as a young advocate for parent, family and community engagement and involvement. His current life goals and aspirations is to one day open his own charter schools and be able to work with UNICEF. He plans on pursuing a Masters in Education and later pursue a Ph.D in International Law and Human Rights as well a Juris Doctorate in Educational Policy and Federal Indian Law.
Mr. Montano is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and expect to graduate in the summer of 2018 and hopes to obtain his CA teaching credentials. At this time Mr. Montano is the Co-Founder and Chief Organizational Officer for Thinking Indigenous a newly established non-profit organization working towards paving the way for indigenous youth world wide. Mr. Montano also serves as a Global Youth Ambassador for Education for A World at School where he is able to advocate for the current 58 million children world wide who are not in school, He also serves as the Commissioner for Indigenous Youth Affairs for the Indigenous Democracy Defense Organization which is an international Non-Governmental Organization. Mr. Montano has been able to attend the United Nations, Congressional Offices and have been able to attend UN Conferences, Global Education Youth Advocacy Training by the Global Campaign for Education – US and attended and spoke in the launch of the Congressional International Basic Education Caucus. Mr. Montano is a well connected young man who is always willing and eager to help where ever his skills and help is needed, Mr. Montano is always looking for ways to help and be involved for the communities which he serves.



Gen-I is White House initiative focused on improving the lives of Native youth. Please share your recommendations for your community and federal governmental officials on ways to support opportunity for tribal youth. What are some ways you can use your voice to contribute to helping other youth succeed?

Young people, both tribal and non-tribal, need support—whether from immediate family or a member of the greater surrounding community, a positive person or movement can really influence and change a life. Engaging youth requires igniting our motivation to participate in change.  This motivation exists for so many of my family and relatives, but often we are discouraged from connecting for a multitude of reasons. Overcoming the onslaught of negativity and historical policies of the past that were intended to destroy our cultures takes time and persistence—as the current battle to change the Redskin’s logo epitomizes. Historical trauma has hindered our drive from developing the many tools we need to improve the quality of life for indigenous youth and our communities, both, on and off the reservation.

America needs to engage and embrace the positive development of young minds, our education system desperately needs more funding, and federal funding for tribes needs to be a higher priority in order to abide by the trust responsibility in perpetuity to our true first Americans. Acknowledgment of the disparity by the masses, along with a strong commitment to properly funding education will help heal our people. My desires to help are rooted in my obligation as a young Indigenous woman—a “youth of America,” to give back to my family and people. The initiative of creating youth empowerment groups to address on-the-ground community needs is my immediate answer to channeling my voice to effect positive changes.

I am building a network to be fully operated and managed by native youth from each respective participating community. The idea is to have native youth from different tribes and areas of the country(urban and reservation) come together to share ideas and develop concepts to support positive changes in their communities. Empowering the youth by networking and collaborating project ideas for positive change and prosperity among native communities on and off the reservation is the most straightforward way to describe the overall plan.

Potential Stakeholders:  I will be working with many native youth from the Denver region, the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations, to potential students in South Dakota Higher Education Institutions, and others yet to be determined as the momentum builds—(but they will be named as the project progresses).


  1. Reach out and work together for change! Here’s a link about a 10 year old in California who impelled change after hearing a song that was part of his school’s curriculum:

    For better or worse, songs and movies seem to have an especially big impact on social perceptions, and misperceptions. Is there any list of movies by and/ or about indigenous people here and elsewhere? Movies like Powwow Highway, Whale Rider and Rabbit Proof Fence all show native youths dealing with widespread ignorance.

    Thanks for the forum Celeste.

  2. This is looking good! The updates are great. What an improvement each time I visit. Keep up the important and great work to mobilize Indian youth across the country.

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