In the early 1960s, NIYC was primarily an Indian civil rights organization, and spearheaded the movement for the preservation of treaty fishing rights in the Northwest. In 1968, it served as the Indian coordinator for the Poor People’s Campaign. In the 1970s, NIYC worked chiefly as an Indian environmental organization filing massive lawsuits for Indian communities that did not want coal strip mining, uranium mining, or milling on their land. NIYC achieved international recognition for halting the $6 billion coal gasification plants on the Navajo Reservation.
NIYC is a proud member of the United Nations impacting the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Today, NIYC is still concerned with these issues:
- Indian Freedom of Religion
- Indian Political Participation
- Protection of Indian Voting Rights
- Public Education
- International Indigenous Issues
- Protection of Treaty Rights
- Economic Development and Sustainability
NIYC actively participates through several United Nations forums that focus on the rights of indigenous peoples. NIYC has participated in hearings before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights regarding health disparities for Native Americans and the health care of Urban Native Americans. NIYC has testified on issues related to the barriers to educational attainment for Native Americans in the Public Education System.