Release Date: March 8, 2001
The Native American Service Agency of Upstate New York (NASA), a nonprofit agency that provides services to hundreds of urban Native Americans in the Syracuse area, will create an award in honor of Oren Lyons, professor of indigenous studies at the University at Buffalo.
The award will be given annually to two Native Americans at a fund-raising dinner to be held in October in Syracuse. Singer Joanne Shenandoah, an Oneida Indian who was a Grammy-Award nominee this year, will be one of the recipients. At Lyons' suggestion, the other recipient will be a high school-aged student.
NASA leaders still are defining the criteria for the award.
A UB faculty member for more than 30 years, Lyons is a clan chief and faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation, one of the six nations comprising the Iroquois Confederation. As such, he is entrusted to pass on the traditions, legends and beliefs of his people for generations to come.
Lyons, who lives on the Onondaga Nation in Nedrow, outside Syracuse, is deeply involved with national and international issues that affect indigenous peoples and has represented them in many forums throughout the world.
In 1990, he received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, an umbrella group for 66 of the nation's largest ethnic-heritage groups.
He has served as a consultant to governments on Native American affairs, and is a widely exhibited artist and illustrator, and a former collegiate boxer and All-American lacrosse champion. The North American Lacrosse Association presents an annual Oren Lyons Cup in his honor.
Lyons is an expert on issues related to Native Americans and the American system of laws and is the author of "Exiled in the Land of the Free: Democracy, the Iroquois and the Constitution."
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