BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — The annual North Dakota Indian Youth Leadership Academy has kicked off.

The conference creates an environment for native youth to learn leadership skills that are used in their local communities throughout the State of North Dakota.

The North Dakota Indian Youth Leadership Academy brings Tribal Nations together.

The conference provides positive interactions between students with the goal of teaching them about issues affecting tribal cultures, as well as connecting young leaders with successful Native American mentors.

“Bringing that knowledge to them so that they know and can start thinking about what they really care about. So, bringing those topics to a leadership academy helps them become aware of some of the issues that we have in Indian country. And so, that they can aspire early, in high school, to be able to start saying, that’s what I care about,” said Lorraine Davis, Founder and CEO of Native Inc.

The goal is to develop leadership skills and develop spiritual, intellectual and emotional qualities in the next generation of Native leaders.

Over four days, youth members will participate in activities and meetings to achieve that goal.

“How to trust yourself and have confidence. We were going to have to do a speech in front of everyone, and learning a lot about confidence is just really helping because it takes a lot,” said KoDee Keplin, a member of the North Dakota Indian Youth leadership Academy.

For many Native communities today, youth represent the majority.

According to, 65% of the Indigenous population is under the age of 25.

Leaders of the academy say the responsibility to prepare and support the next generation is more important than ever.

“Our society has really changed. And leadership initiatives are very important to the ideal of building a more complete and more stable future,” stated Monte Yellowbird Sr., a Mentor for the North Dakota Indian Youth Leadership Academy.

The leadership members of the North Dakota Indian Academy, hope to give tribal youth members the tools to succeed beyond their communities.