About the IIYC


Our Roots

The International Indigenous Youth Council (IIYC) was started and led by womxn and two-spirit peoples during the Standing Rock Indigenous Uprising of 2016 while peacefully protecting the Cannonball and Missouri Rivers against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. In 2017 we extended the reach of the organization through a chapter model and now have IIYC chapters across Turtle Island, including Chicago, Denver, New Mexico, Southern California, South Dakota, Texas (Yanaguana Chapter) and Twin Cities Minnesota. We are rooted in the protection of the elements and have been brought together and continue to be guided by the prayer for the water. We aspire to inspire young individuals to build bridges of solidarity and become leaders of their communities.



The youth at Standing Rock

Mission Statement

The International Indigenous Youth Council seeks to organize youth through education, spiritual practices and civic engagement to create positive change in our communities. Through action and ceremony, the IIYC commits to building a sustainable future for the next seven generations.


  • We rise to protect land, water and treaty rights.

  • We rise to practice and protect all indigenous culture and ceremonies.

  • We rise, as empowered youth, for social justice.

  • We rise to act through non-violent direct action and community organizing.

  • We rise to inspire young people, globally, to become leaders in their indigenous communities.

  • We rise for the following virtues: Prayer, Honor, Wisdom and Love.


Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award - Summer 2018

Led by human rights activist and lawyer Kerry Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights has advocated for a more just and peaceful world since 1968. They work alongside local activists to ensure lasting positive change in governments and corporations. Whether in the United States or abroad, their programs have pursued justice through strategic litigation on key human rights issues, educated millions of children in human rights advocacy and fostered a social good approach to business and investment.

In 2018, the IIYC received the RFK Human Rights Award for advocating for environmental conservation issues, including preservation of the water supply. The IIYC was honored with this award alongside March for Our Lives, Color of Change and United We Dream.

RFK Human Rights 2018 Town Hall

Makers of the Movement Award - Summer 2017

In 2017, the IIYC received the Makers of The Movement award from The United Church of Christ. The Makers of the Movement award recognizes activists who help lead movements that stand for protection of our environment and natural resources by bringing awareness to environmental justice efforts.

“Each of us is put here in this time and this place to personally decide the future of humankind. Did you think the Creator would create unnecessary people in a time of such terrible danger? Know that you yourself are essential to this world. Understand both the blessing and the burden of that. You yourself are desperately needed to save the soul of this world. Did you think you were put here for something less? In a Sacred Hoop of Life, there is no beginning and no ending.”

-- Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Nations