Native Youth Alliance of Minnesota (NYAM) emerged from efforts following the 2008 Minnesota Summit on Afterschool Learning Opportunities. The summit engaged over 175 leaders, including 18 Native people from tribal nations and communities throughout Minnesota. During the summit, research and data was presented to promote efforts for ensuring all youth have access to high quality afterschool programming. Native youth were omitted in the information because research and data are lacking. Chairwoman Erma Vizenor (White Earth Nation), a summit panelist, addressed the critical need for high-quality research and data about Native youth in Minnesota and issued a call to action to improve visibility of Native youth.
Following the summit, twelve (12) committed people formed a planning committee. Minnesota Department of Education and Minnesota Department of Public Safety provided support. The committee met monthly from mid-2009 to late 2011. In 2012, the committee continued to meet bi-monthly. During this time, the group worked with Full Circle Community Institute, a nonprofit organization, to host five (5) separate Gathering of Tribal Leaders, Native Youth, and Native Researcher events. The Gatherings invited an inclusive process for exploring ways to ensure Native youth are included in information used by decision makers, policymakers, and practitioners. Several guiding principles, goals, and strategies were created. These early efforts and insights form the foundation of NYAM, which was incorporated in 2013 and received 501c3 tax exempt status in 2014.