Chief Oren R. Lyons


Professor Oren R. Lyons, University of Buffalo / Faithkeeper of Onondaga Nation - Onandaga Nation, New York State

Professor Oren Lyons is the Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy. Once a legendary lacrosse player, Lyons is now a recognized advocate of indigenous rights and the global environmental challenge. Oren Lyons was born in 1930 and raised in the culture and practices of the Iroquois on the Seneca and Onondaga nations in Upstate New York.

For over fourteen years he has taken part in the meetings in Geneva of Indigenous Peoples of the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations, and helped to establish the Working Group on Indigenous Populations in 1982.

He serves on the Executive Committee of the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders on Human Survival, and is a principal figure in the Traditional Circle of Indian Elders. He was a negotiator between the governments of Canada, Quebec, New York State and the Mohawk Indians in the Oka crisis during the summer of 1990.

In 1992 he addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations where he opened the International Year of the World's Indigenous People. Lyons has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Syracuse University. He has been the recipient of the Ellis Island Congressional Medal of Honor, the National Audubon Award, the Earth Day International Award of the United Nations, and the Elder and Wiser Award of the Rosa Parks Institute for Human Rights.

In 2000 Chief Lyons addressed the Millennium Peace Summit in the UN Assembly Hall, making his famous ”The Ice is Melting Speech”. 2014 he gave the same speech, at the same UN Assembly Hall - ending it with: ”As we speak, the ice continues to melt in the north”. 

Lyons serves on the board of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development and is board chairman of Honoring Contributions in the Governance of American Indian Nations.

Since January 2008 Oren Lyons is the Chairman of the Board of Plantagon.

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