OREN LYONS
Onondaga Nation

2019 – Spiritual

Chief Oren Lyons is a faith keeper of the Turtle Clan, Onondaga Council of Chiefs, Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy). He served in the U.S. Army before receiving a scholarship to Syracuse University, where he was an All-American athlete in lacrosse, a traditional sport of the Haudenosaunee. In the 1960s, he joined the “Red Power Movement,” and in the 1970s, he took a leadership role in Native rights events, including the “Trail of Broken Treaties.” In 1982, he helped establish the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations. For more than four decades, Chief Lyons has been an activist and has taken a leadership role in international Indigenous and environmental justice events and activities and continues to work with communities across the globe.

Chief Lyons served as Professor of American Studies and Director of the Native American Studies Program at the State University of New York/Buffalo. He has published widely over the years and edited “Exiled in the Land of the Free,” a book that made a case for the influence of the ideas and values of the Iroquois Confederacy on American democracy and the U.S. Constitution. Today, Chief Lyons continues to inspire generations through his leadership in the Traditional Circle of Indian Elders and his public speaking.


Oren Lyons (Onondaga Nation) from James Shield on Vimeo.