Arizona Public Radio | Your Source for NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Navajo Nation Requests Official Membership in the United Nations

Navajo Nation Council Office of the Speaker

The United Nations doesn’t allow indigenous tribes to be official members. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the Navajo Nation recently sent a delegation to New York City to press the U.N. for full inclusion. 

Navajo officials are calling on the U.N. to create a new category for international tribes in the General Assembly. Indigenous nations currently participate in limited ways as observers. But the Navajo Nation and other tribes want the ability to speak on the floor of the U.N. and address concerns affecting Native communities.

Navajo Council Delegate Nathaniel Brown was part of the group that traveled to the U.N.

"I think this will change how we are trying to preserve who we are as indigenous people. We need help and this is one way of doing that," Brown says.

Brown says U.N. member status would further human rights, and help protect sacred sites, culture and the environment on tribal lands.

There are more than 500 federally recognized Indigenous nations in the U.S. The Navajo Nation is the biggest. 

Ryan Heinsius was named interim news director and managing editor in January 2024. He joined KNAU's newsroom as an executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
Related Content