Guests from around the world will gather at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown Sunday for a gala to celebrate the life achievements of Onondaga Nation Faithkeeper Oren Lyons. The SU alumnus is 89, and is an accomplished lacrosse player, artist, and author. Lyons is a leading voice at the UN permanent Forum on Human Rights for Indigenous Peoples, and has received numerous environmental and peace awards. WAER News sat down with his son, Rex Lyons, and gala co-chair Gayle Kelley to chat about his influence.
Rex Lyons says his father is a humble man, and is always striving for the common good and how to be of service.
"He always refers to himself as a runner. He doesn't like to be called a chief or leader. He says I feel like more of a messenger carrying a lot of our wisdom, which is sorely needed."
Rex Lyons says his father is a self-made man who believes education is is essential to be successful, and understanding others. He holds a Doctor of Laws Degree from Syracuse University, and is Professor Emeritus at SUNY Buffalo. But Lyons says his father's one of his greatest teachers was the outdoors.
"The connection between nature and the industrial revolution and technology...he feels there's a disconnect that is very dangerous. He says it's becoming apparent that our intellect is cutting our own throats. We haven't paid any attention to the unversial laws that are boss, which is nature."
Gala co-chair Gayle Kelley says Oren Lyons feels it's his role to teach others to care for and respect the earth, it's land, water, animals, and plants.
"One of the major tenets of the Haudenosaunee people is making decisions based on seven generations ahead, and not to let your generation be the one that does nothing. He wants to educate them about a much bigger picture, that we are part of a much greater web of life.
A diverse group of global influencers will be on hand for Sunday's gala, all of whom have worked with Oren Lyons or on behalf of what he feels is esssential for survivial and peace. Rex Lyons says it speaks volumes to his impact.
"I've heard more often than not how he's changed their whole direction and purpose in life, just by having contact with him, the things he's said, and things he's been involved in. That says a lot, and it doesn't happen very often. He's just being inclusive, and he does it in such a way that is very engaging and you want to be a part of it."
The gala honoring Lyons this Sunday is sold out.