Faithkeeper honored at SU

SU names dorm Oren Lyons Hall for man of all seasons:

When Oren Lyons was a student at Syracuse University in the 1950s, he not only led the 1957 lacrosse team to a perfect best-in-the nation record, he excelled as a student in its fine arts department. After graduation, he lived and worked in New York City as part of the art world before returning to his roots as a member of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation, where he serves as faithkeeper.

Through the years, Lyons has been an advocate for Native people's rights and the environment and has addressed the United Nations on indigenous people's rights. Environmental issues have occupied him since his student days, particularly the future of Onondaga Lake.

The university recognized his contributions to his alma mater, the Haudenosaunee and people everywhere by naming a dormitory in his honor. Lyons Hall, at 401 Euclid Avenue, houses 39 undergraduate men and women in three floors. The renovated building was formerly the International Living Center.

"It is distinctly Syracuse University's honor that Oren agreed to allow us to name a building for him," Chancellor Nancy Cantor said at the dedication ceremony in late November. "His contributions as a scholar, athlete, teacher, author, artist, diplomat, environmentalist, human rights activist, historian and, of course, faithkeeper are befitting the longevity of the tribute we pay him."

Lyons previously was awarded an honorary degree by the university and gave the commencement address in 1993. In accepting this honor, he said the university's full scholarships for all eligible Haudenosaunee students demonstrates the school's commitment to partnership with the Onondaga Nation, the Haudenosaunee and Native American people everywhere.

"It was much more than just a promise," he said. "It is a door held open."

Lyons is considered one of the most distinguished alumni in Syracuse University's history. Besides being an All-American goalie on the lacrosse team under legendary coach Roy Simmons Sr., he led the resurgence of the Iroquois national lacrosse team known as one of the best in the nation. He is widely published and currently is director of Native American studies at the University at Buffalo, which he helped found.

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