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Hall of Famers

Hall of Famer

Oren Lyons

Inducted in 2023

Member Details

Date of Birth: 1930
Place of Birth: Onondaga Nation, New York
Sport: Lacrosse
Member Category: Builder

Career Highlights

Co-founded the Haudenosaunee Nationals, the first (and currently only) sovereign Indigenous team competing in sport at the world level.

Established the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations
Inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame
Inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame
Inducted into the Native American Hall of Fame
2014, 2019, 2023
Haudenosaunee Nationals, World Lacrosse Championships – Bronze Medal
Received the Spirit of Tewaaraton Award that honours outstanding college players and legends of lacrosse.
Received the New York Emmy Award for his contribution to the Emmy Award-winning entry sports documentary "Roots of Lacrosse" from Honest Engine Films
Hall of Famer Oren Lyons


A visionary builder and decorated athlete, Oren Lyons has spent much of his remarkable life advocating for the rights of Indigenous people in the world of sport and beyond. Born in 1930 on the Onondaga Nation in upstate New York, Oren was recruited to play lacrosse for Syracuse University in 1955. An outstanding goalie, during his collegiate career Oren was twice selected All-American, named most valuable player (MVP) with the Cox Lacrosse Award, and earned the coveted Orange Key award for athletic and academic achievement. Graduating with a keen, articulate passion for social justice and environmental conservation, Oren became a distinguished professor in American Studies at State University of New York in Buffalo, co-founding a seminal Native Studies program in 1972 that expanded to become the University’s new Department of Indigenous Studies in 2022.
Originated by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy of Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and Tuscarora nations, lacrosse offered Oren a powerful platform to fight for decolonization and the reclamation of Indigenous rights. In 1982 Oren co-founded the first (and currently only) sovereign Indigenous team competing in sport at the world level, known today as the Haudenosaunee Nationals. Declining to use American or Canadian passports and playing under a Haudenosaunee flag, the team overcame significant barriers to achieve recognition and success on the world stage. When Canadian organizers barred the Haudenosaunee Nationals from the 1986 World Lacrosse Championships in Toronto, Oren organized a parallel tournament at State University facilities in Buffalo and pointedly excluded Canada’s national team from competition. Refusing to be relegated to the sidelines, the Haudenosaunee Nationals were invited to join the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) the following year. Despite drawing from a much smaller player pool, the team has steadily risen to the top of international competition, winning Bronze medals at the World Lacrosse Championships in 2014, 2019 and 2023.
In addition to setting an unprecedented template for Indigenous sovereignty in sport with the Haudenosaunee Nationals, Oren has worked tirelessly to empower future generations as a coach, community leader, conservationist, artist, activist, and author. An Onondaga Nation Faithkeeper and Chief of the Onondaga National Council of Chiefs of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, in 1982 Oren helped establish the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations, mandated to develop minimum standards for the protection of Indigenous rights around the world. Oren’s far-reaching legacy of activism has been recognized over several decades through an outpouring of international honours and awards, including the UN NGO World Peace Prize, the Smithsonian’s award for Art and Cultural Achievement, and the inaugural International Earth Day Award. Whether serving as a leading voice at the UN permanent Forum on Human Rights for Indigenous People or campaigning for the inclusion of lacrosse as an Olympic sport, Oren continues to spark decolonizing conversations about nationhood and sovereignty that underscore the enduring importance of his game-changing advocacy for the rights of Indigenous people everywhere.