When Oren Lyons speaks, people listen: at the United Nations General Assembly, as a key member of the Council of North American Aboriginal Nations, or on any international platform where he regularly is invited to speak. Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation and internationally known and sought-after speaker on climate change and other issues regarding Haudenosaunee prophecies, comes to Rochester to share his wisdom on Wednesday, October 19, from 7-9 pm at Nazareth College’s Shults Center.
In his lecture “The Natural World: Our Responsibility As Human Beings,” Lyons will discuss problems that arise when humans neglect the responsibilities of taking care of the earth. His is the second of three lectures in “Sadao’hdi:yos (Lend a Good Ear): Messages from Haudenosaunee Leaders,” Ganondagan’s 2011 Native American Lecture Series. This year’s series is a partnership with Friends of Ganondagan, the Center for Service-Learning and the Religious Studies Department at Nazareth College.
As Faithkeeper, Oren Lyons is entrusted to maintain the traditions, values, and history of the Turtle Clan and uphold the Great Law of Peace of the Iroquois. Lyons also sits on the Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs of the Six Nations (Iroquois) Confederacy. Recognized throughout the world as a human rights advocate, environmentalist, author, speaker, and artist, he is a key member of the Traditional Circle of Indian Elders comprised of traditional members of the Aboriginal nations across North America. Lyons has addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations, opened the International Year of the World's Indigenous People, and was the subject of a PBS Bill Moyers documentary. He helped establish the Working Group on Indigenous Populations at the U.N., and for more than 15 years participated in the Indigenous Peoples Conference in Geneva supported by the U.N.’s Human Rights Commission.
Lyons was awarded the Ellis Island Congressional Medal of Honor and organized a delegation from the Iroquois Confederacy to attend the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in South America. Lyons received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Syracuse University, his alma mater, and is Professor Emeritus of American Studies at State University of New York at Buffalo where he directed the Native American Studies Program. While at SU, he was an All-American lacrosse player and later was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. He serves as the honorary chairman of the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse team.
The third and final lecture of the Native American Lecture Series takes place on Thursday, November 3, with Dr. Theresa Maresca (Mohawk) discussing the importance of taking care of our physical, mental, and spiritual selves through connections to the natural world in “Healing & Balance in the Haudenosaunee Culture.”
In a related event following the series on Tuesday, November 15 from 7-9 pm, at Nazareth College, (room TBA), Ganondagan and Nazareth will host a Community Read featuring the book, To Become a Human Being: The Message of Tadodaho Chief Leon Shenandoah by Steve Wall. This event will be facilitated by Ganondagan Site Manager G. Peter Jemison and Nazareth College Professor and Chair of Religious Studies Dr. Susan Nowak, and is free and open to the public. The book, which retails for $17.95, will be available for purchase at the lectures and at the Ganondagan Gift Shop until October 29.
NOTE: Interviews and photos are available on request.
Ganondagan State Historic Site (www.ganondagan.org) in Victor, NY stands at the location of what was one of the largest, most vital 17th-century Seneca towns until its destruction in 1687.Today, it is a destination for visitors to explore the replica of a bark longhouse and hunting lodge and enjoy self-guided tours through trails on the Site’s 600+ acres. It also acts as a resource for students and educators about the Iroquois Confederacy, or Haudenosaunee, and its message of peace. Every summer, Friends of Ganondagan hosts the Native American Dance & Music Festival, attended by more than 4,000 people from all over the world. Friends also sponsors the annual Canandaigua Treaty Day and presents lectures, workshops, and programs reflecting the vibrancy of a living culture and promoting a sustainable future.
The Center for Service-Learning at Nazareth College has as its mission to facilitate the integration of service with academic study that enhances student learning, addresses community interests and encourages civic responsibility.