Faithkeeper, Turtle Clan, Onondaga Nation, Haudenosaunee, Six Nations, Iroquois Confederacy. Member of the Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs.
Lyons attended Syracuse University on an athletic scholarship, where he was awarded the Orange Key for his athletic and academic accomplishments. A lifelong lacrosse player, Oren was an All American at Syracuse where he and his teammate Jim Brown led Syracuse to an undefeated season during his graduating year. Oren was later elected to the Lacrosse Hall of Fame and serves as honorary chairman of the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team
Upon leaving Syracuse, with a degree in Fine Arts, Lyons became the planning director for Norcross Greeting cards, began exhibiting his own paintings, and became a very successful commercial artist.
He later took a teaching position with the University of Buffalo, and in recognition of many years as a teacher of undergraduate and graduate students, he is listed as a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor and Professor Emeritus of American Indian Studies.
In 1977, Oren was a founding member of the Traditional Circle of Elders and Youth. This council of respected Indian leaders meets annually to provide avenues for Native American culture to inform and contribute to contemporary cultural and political debate.
In 1982, he helped establish the Working Group on Indigenous Populations at the United Nations. He is the recipient of the United Nations NGO World Peace Prize. In 1992, he addressed the General Assembly where he opened the International Year of the World’s Indigenous People. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders on Human Survival. He is a frequent participant in Human Rights Issues in Geneva and recently received Sweden’s Prestigious Friend’s of the Children Award along with his colleague Nelson Mandela.
Oren is the subject of an hour long PBS documentary by Bill Moyers and recently appeared in Eleventh Hour, a documentary on the state of the natural world, and climate change produced by Leonardo DiCaprio. He is the author of several books including Exiled in the Land of the Free, co authored with John Mohawk, and has also illustrated several children’s books.
Chief Lyons was awarded the Ellis Island Congressional Medal of Honor. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Honoring Nations at Harvard University, and the Chairman of the Board of Plantagon which received world recognition in Green House Innovation.
Syracuse University recently bestowed an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree to Oren and named a student Dormitory, Lyons Hall in his honor. He also received the prestigious George Arents Award for Social and Environmental Activism.
Chief Lyons is a tireless advocate for American Indian causes, and humanity’s responsibilities to the earth and our future generations.
He is a much in demand lecturer, and a respected participant in both national and international forums.