Oren Lyons Jr.


Enshrined: 1988

Born: 1930

Lacrosse legend Chief Oren R. Lyons, Jr. is not only recognized for his athletic talent but as a respected advocate for American Indian causes. Lyons was an All-American goalie at Syracuse University who grew up on the Onondaga Reservation. Lyons learned his goalkeeping skills by watching his father, Oren Lyons, Sr.

A pivotal point in Lyons’ career came when he was 17. Lyons was in goal against renowned player Angus Thomas, who had been banished for accidentally killing a player with his hard shot. Thomas fired an underhand shot that slammed into Lyons chest and broke three of his ribs. But Lyons walked away from the event with much more: his manhood and the makings of a legendary goalie.

At SU, Lyons was a third team All-American pick in 1957 and 1958. The Orangemen went undefeated during his senior season in 1958. Lyons went on to play club lacrosse for the New York Lacrosse Club from 1959-1965, the New Jersey Lacrosse Club from 1966-1970 and the Onondaga Athletic Club from 1970-1972.

Chief Lyons, named 1989 Man of the Year in lacrosse by the NCAA, has been a leader for American Indian causes. He is internationally recognized as an eloquent and respected spokesperson on behalf of Native peoples. He is a sought-after lecturer or participant in forums in a variety of areas, including American Indian traditions, Indian law and history, human rights, environment and interfaith dialogue. Chief Lyons, a published author, has received numerous honors and awards. He was also the subject of a one-hour PBS documentary in 1991.

Career highlights:

1956-1958: Three-year player at SU; Third team All-American in 1957 and 1958; Honorable Mention All-American in 1956; Team co-captain 1957, 1958; Winner of the Laurie Cox Award and the Orange Key Award in 1957.

1959-1965: Played club lacrosse with the New York Lacrosse Club

1966-1970: Played club lacrosse with the New Jersey Lacrosse Club

1970-1972: Played club lacrosse with the Onondaga Athletic Club

1989: Received the Howdy Myers Man of the Year Award; Awarded the Syracuse University Letterman of Distinction Award

1991: Received the Howard E. Johnson Award; Inducted to the Upstate New York Chapter of the Lacrosse Foundation Hall of Fame

Other accomplishments:

Honorary chairman of the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse team; Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy; Member of the Human Rights Division of the United Nations, Authored numerous books including Exiled in the Land of the Free, Democracy, Indian Nations, and the U.S. Constitution; as well as Voice of Indigenous Peoples (1992), and Native People Address the United Nations (1994).