Thinking Indigenous: An Indigenous Youth Network



The name of this group shall be the Thinking Indigenous: American Indigenous Youth Network (AIYN), a Youth Council.



The objectives of this group shall be to provide a collective front to represent intertribal youth in all matters that concern them and their tribal community ties on and off reservations; to serve as a means of mobilizing and coordinating the actions of youth, other community members and organizations toward positive goals; to promote the development of future tribal leaders; to encourage community development; and to empower younger generations to make positive decisions.



Section 1. The group shall have one class of members consisting of Native American youth between the ages of 13 and 24 years of age.

Section 2. Each member shall have a right to cast one (1) vote on any matter submitted to a vote of the membership.



Section 1. The officers of the group shall be a President, Vice President, Secretary of Council, Secretary of Member Affairs, and Treasurer. Two or more principal offices may not be held by the same person.  Group officers should have 1 year tenure within program before assuming an official position.

Section 2. The President shall be the principal officer of the group and shall supervise and control the affairs of the group. The President will preside at all membership meetings.

Section 3. In the absence of the President, the Vice President shall perform the duties of the President. Arrange provisional meeting with divisional network council leaders.

Section 4. The Secretary of Council shall keep minutes of the membership meetings and see that all notices are given in accordance with the bylaws, keep current membership list, and in general, perform all duties related to the office of Secretary.

Section 5. The Secretary of Member Affairs shall keep minutes of divisional network committee and see that all changes within AIYN are communicated to members. Keep current divisional network committee representatives list, and in general, perform all duties related to the office of Secretary.

Section 6. The Treasurer shall have custody and be responsible for the transparency, collection and disbursements of all funds within the network. The Treasurer will prepare and present a financial report at each meeting. (An adult advisor with either President or V.P. as witness, shall co-sign all deposits, checks, and financial statements.)

Section 7. The officers shall be nominated  elected by fair ballot/poll at a time and in a manner prescribed by the membership to serve for one year or until removed from office for just cause or until their successors are elected and assume office. The officer’s terms shall commence at the close of the meeting at which they are elected.



Section 1. An Advisory Council will consist of parents, elders, other concerned adults, and representatives of various agencies serving Native American youth; that have been nominated by members, and elected by council officers.

Section 2. The members of the Advisory Council will help facilitate meetings, offer guidance to youth, chaperone functions and activities of the youth council, and assist youth council members in fulfilling their responsibilities. Record meeting observations for easing process of interchanging advisors. One (or more) members of the Advisory Council will serve as the primary advisor(s) of the youth council.

Section 3. At least one member of the Advisory Council must be present at physical youth council meetings and functions, or copied in on official council communications via email/in writing.



Section 1. The youth council membership shall meet a minimum of three times a year. A notice of time, place and agenda will be provided to all voting members at least fifteen days prior to the meeting. These meetings will consist of a business meeting followed by a social or recreational function. The business meeting will include reports from officers and/or special committees. Planning and duties for future business and social functions will be delegated during the business meetings.

Section 2. The presence of eight (8) voting members of the council shall be required to constitute a quorum necessary to conduct the Youth Council’s business.

Section 3. All regular and special meetings of the Youth Council shall be conducted in accordance with the network’s goal planning agenda including, but not limited to:

  1.   Roll Call
  2.   Reading of minutes of previous meeting
  3.   Reports of Officers
  4.   Reports of Divisional Network Committees
  5.   Goal tracking, successes, mapping progress and achievement
  6.   New goals and proposals, as well as divisional network committee assignments.
  7.   Announcements, and recommendations of events.
  8.   Adjournment


Divisional Network Committees

Divisional Network Committee shall be established by the President as deemed necessary to carry out the work of many network members striving toward various goals, with focus on prioritizing call to action proposals to benefit public needs via cultural embrace, general and cultural education, sports and fitness, music and arts, business, health physically and mentally, as well as family resources.

The Divisional Network Committees will be appointed each a chairman by the President. The Committee Chairperson will be responsible for appointing others to serve on the Committee, having two representatives from each focus group. The President shall maintain communication among the committees to ensure focus goals are understood, prioritized and met.



Section 1. Affiliates shall be voted in and approved by all (5) officers of the Thinking Indigenous: American Indigenous Youth Network (AIYN).

Section 2. Affiliates may be voted out of affiliation by network members. – Due to conflict, in better interest of Thinking Indigenous: American Indigenous Youth Network (AIYN).

Section 2. Thinking Indigenous: American Indigenous Youth Network (AIYN) youth council will affiliate with:

Youth representatives of independent tribal affiliated youth councils; other officially approved (see: Article Four):

  1.      [Example, 00/00/0000]

(list of affiliates, dates amended above.)


Amendment of Bylaws

These by laws may be amended at any regular meeting of the group by a two-thirds vote, providing that the amendment has been submitted in writing at the previous regular meeting, and has been publicly proposed to the members of AIYN.

(Organizing groups are encouraged to discuss and carefully consider all of the provisions and ensure they meet the needs of the youth council. Once adopted they should be followed and subjected to frequent review to make sure they provide the governing structure needed for effective youth council operation.)

Resolution supporting the Organization of the American Indigenous Youth Council

WHEREAS, the members of the Thinking Indigenous: American Indigenous Youth Council represent a great natural resource, and

WHEREAS, today’s youth will be leaders of tomorrow, and

WHEREAS, the youth need leadership training and experience to better prepare them for these important roles, and

WHEREAS, the youth will be empowered with the opportunity to bring about positive changes in the existing conditions (on the reservation/village or within the community), and

WHEREAS, the young people between the ages of thirteen to twenty-four should have a greater voice in matters concerning their well-being, and

WHEREAS, the youth, through their collective action and planning, can serve themselves , their families, their communities, and

WHEREAS, there is a need for a mechanism which will allow for the distribution of information, coordination of activities, and sharing of resources, and

WHEREAS, there is a necessity for interaction and communication among the youth representing their own needs, interests and communities.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY Thinking Indigenous: American Indigenous Youth Network, that the spiritual, mental, physical and social well-being of ourselves and our communities is of the highest priority.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that in order to provide a greater voice for ourselves, as the youth, and to create greater opportunities to develop as leaders, the Thinking Indigenous: American Indigenous Youth Network (A.I.Y.N.) authorizes the formation of the A.I.Y.N. Youth Council. This organization will operate under the supervision and with the support and encouragement of the members, elected adult advisors and affiliates of the network.

(The officer who presided at the meeting at which the resolution is passed should sign and date the document to certify its approval.)

Duties of Members


  1. Show respect for other member’s opinions and actions. – Feel empowered to know that you may share your own.
  2. Accept responsibility of making decisions to benefit our communities and understand that participation is essential.
  3. Open minds, open doors – considering each other’s views will allow for an equitable social environment.
  4. Embrace each disposition, and support your peers!
  5. Know the purpose of your contribution and help keep the ideas on track to get things done.
  6. Earn the right to give constructive criticism freely, by accepting it.
  7. Recognize the ability you have to make changes, and act on that ability.
  8. Accept the responsibility of your ability to change the world you live in; by working with others’ and exchanging ideas.

Duties of Officers


  1. Before proposal meeting:
  2. Plans the meeting and prepares the agenda with the help of other officers, committee chairs, and the advisor. The president includes what is to be accomplished and what is to be achieved based on the needs and voice of the network via data reviewed through polls run by the network members. Determine the type of meeting and procedure to be used towards conducting a network proposal.
  3. Delegate responsibilities.
  4. Check notifications, reports, and business items.
  5. Organizes meeting place, equipment, etc.
  6. Arrives in the proper frame of mind, know that planning and preparation are complete.
  7. During the proposal meeting:
  8. Calls the meeting to order.
  9. Follow the agenda and address items in a logical order.
  10. Have a working knowledge of parliamentary procedure and other group techniques.
  11. Organize and direct the work of committees through a chairperson.
  12. Keeps a favorable climate in the meeting by ensuring all parties speak their part.
  13. Encourage and set an example in leadership, citizenship, and courtesy.
  14. Listen actively.
  15. Praise and thank individuals and groups.
  16. Summarize and evaluate goals of proposal.
  17. Confirm by vote for finalization of proposal for disbursement.
  18. After the proposal meeting:
  19. Evaluate the meeting and the achievements.
  20. Checks reports and minutes.
  21. Consult with youth council officers and sponsoring organizations on forecasted goals
  22. Report to and consult with youth council officers and sponsoring organization with finalized proposal
  23. List items to be researched.
  24. Check work of divisional network committees.
  25. Follow through on recommendations and actions taken.
  26. Prepare for future events and promotions for focus goals
  27. Help to see that all paperwork and tools are organized.

(Information for this section adapted from the National Association of Secondary Principals.)

Duties of Officers (Continued)


  1. Has the same requirements and knowledge as the president.
  2. Is able and willing to take over for the president
  3. Maintains an important, specific divisional network committee focus goal assignment.
  4. Can serve as the most significant leader within the committee structure.


  1. Before the meeting :
  2. Ensure all possible notification is made with network members prior to proposal meetings.
  3. Assist with the preparation of the agenda.
  4. Keep clear typed minutes of the last meeting.
  5. Assist various divisional network committee leaders in drafting and distributing any correspondence.
  6. During the meeting:
  7. Take attendance and keep permanent records.
  8. Take complete minutes including name of organization, date, and place of meeting, who presided, old and new business, divisional network committee focus goal reports, proposals, and results.
  9. Read minutes from previous meeting.
  10. Assist the president.


  1. Keeps accurate, complete records of any and all money collected and spent.
  2. Prepares a budget for AIYN council approval, usually with assistance of a divisional network committee leader and advisor.
  3. Present reports regularly to council and sponsoring organization(s).
  4. Prepare an annual fiscal report.

All Positions

Duties will be accepted and executed as stated in the bylaws of the youth council.

Duties of Divisional Network Committees and Leaders

Divisional Network Committee Leaders may be appointed, chosen/nominated from network members, or elected by the members of an entire division. The size of committees may vary according to the project and the scope of work to be accomplished per division. 2-7 members of each division should be a part of a divisional network committee.

Types of Divisional Network Committees

  1. Standing: Usually elected or appointed for the entire year. each committee shall represent an individual division of the network (ex. environmental, health, arts, education)
  2. Sub-Standing: Appointed for a specific purpose by a standing division in cooperation or collaboration with a Network Affiliate. When the specific purpose is accomplished, the committees may be appointed to investigate or to act for the entire group.
  3. Executive: Usually composed of officers, divisional network committee leaders or an elected board. This group assists in planning meetings and initiating and organizing activities. Reports from this group are compiled by the secretary from the minutes of their meetings.

Divisional Network Committee Leaders should:

  1. Understand the purpose of the divisional network committee and the methods for achieving and evaluating beneficial proposals.
  2. Share the responsibility with the president in making the proposal successful.
  3. Understand the responsibility in the group and to your constituents.
  4. Understand supportive and positive leadership techniques.
  5. Follow through with focus goals, and work with peers to determine what said goals may be.
  6. Be willing to place indigenous youth objectives above personal objectives and be able to accept the majority position and support it.

Divisional Network Committee reports should include the following information:

  1. Name of the committee, name of chairperson, and names of the members.
  2. Date that work began, number of meetings held, and list of supplies with the amount, cost, and where obtained.
  3. Committee activities.
  4. Evaluation.
  5. Committee suggestions.
  6. Signature of chairperson or committee spokesperson or secretary.


Advisors are key to having effective youth councils, and shall be nominated and voted in by network members. The type of advisor will determine to a great extent the success of the youth council. To be successful, an advisor must have the respect, trust, and confidence of youth council members as well as of their parents and officials of the sponsoring organization.

An effective advisor is: Trustworthy, Dedicated and determined, Sensitive, Sociable, Honest, Responsible, Courteous, Persistent and consistent, Patient, Understanding, Respectful, Reliable, A good listener, and Open-minded.

Advisors assume a variety of roles and responsibilities.

They may be a guide, a counselor, a motivator, a promoter, or a coach. However, the advisor’s primary role is that of a witness and co-facilitator. An advisor must be sure that youth council officers understand their roles and insist that they know how to conduct an effective meeting. Although the primary responsibility for bringing youth council projects and activities to successful completion rests with the youth involved, the advisor will be called upon to supply a great deal of information and guidance.

An advisor takes steps to keep partisan politics out of youth council meetings and activities. They set a positive example by not speaking against elected leaders or officials of the sponsoring organization and insisting youth council leaders do likewise. Advisors perform other duties including: monitoring funds, helping negotiate proposals for affiliates, obtaining medical release forms when youth take trips, serving as liaison between youth and youth council’s sponsoring organization, encouraging active participation of each youth council member, encouraging the goals of the network, creating opportunities for youth councils, and assuming the responsibilities and duties of a chaperone.

At youth council meetings, advisors should help develop effective relationships among youth. An advisor should promote communication techniques that make youth council members feel better about themselves, help them express their feelings, and encourage them to talk in a setting which is free from threats or fear, such as a talking circle.

The advisor monitors meetings and activities to ensure that the youth council does not become a clique or an elitist group, monitor practice of power amongst youth to ensure decisions made are in the interest of the network members, and to ensure that a few of the members don’t dominate every meeting or get all the media attention.

An advisor demonstrates trust. As trust develops among youth council members and the advisor, it is much easier for individual members to learn how their behavior affects the rest of the group and to modify this behavior if necessary or appropriate.

Advisors should always keep in mind that the youth council belongs to the youth. The advisor assists members in every way possible, but the meetings and projects are planned by members. The advisor must not misuse the youth council by pushing their personal agenda upon the members.

The personal conduct of an advisor is extremely important – not only in youth council meetings – but at all times. The advisor is a friend who relates well with youth, but does not try to be a youth. They must know where to “draw the line.”

The advisor is a role model and one who is entrusted by parents to work with their sons and daughters. The quickest way to destroy a youth council is for an advisor to do something that might violate this trust relationship.

The advisor holds a very challenging position because youth council members will model the leadership they demonstrate. Ultimately, a youth council’s success depends greatly on the attitude, commitment, and overall effectiveness of an advisor.

In short, a good advisor serves as…..

  • Facilitator
  • Consultant
  • Teacher
  • Observer
  • Promoter
  • Positive
  • Role Model

When possible, an advisory council should be formed from representatives of various youth-serving organizations to assist with youth council programs and development.