Thursday, October 21, 2010

Canandaigua Treaty Keynote Speaker Oren Lyons

When I first heard that Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation, would be the keynote speaker at this year's commemoration on Thursday, November 11 of the Canandaigua Treaty of 1794, it brought back my first experience hearing this quietly charismatic and visionary man. In the summer of 1991, I happened to catch Oren's interview with PBS television host Bill Moyers. I was taken with Oren's tremendous historical knowledge and perspective, his awareness of the importance of bringing the past into the present with consideration for the future, and of his tremendous sense of responsibility in his role as Faithkeeper. (A year later, he addressed the General Assembly of the United Nation, where he opened the International Year of the World's Indigenous People.)

It is remarkable that one man has done so much for so many. The awards he's received for his range of accomplishments is stunning: the Ellis Island Congressional Medal of Honor; the National Audubon Award; the Earth Day International Award of the United Nations; the Elder and Wiser Award from the Rosa Parks Institute for Human Rights; and the Universal Award from the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations.

As if that's not enough for one man, this author, artist, and professor also received an Honorary Doctor of Law from Syracuse University, and was an All-American lacrosse player at S.U., receiving Man of the Year in Lacrosse by the NCAA.

So, on Thursday, November 11, I'll be there at the 216th commemoration of the Canandaigua Treaty between the Six Nations and the United States, rededicating the agreement that secures perpetual peace and friendship between the two. And I'll be grabbing a front-row seat to hear Oren. Hope you'll be there too for what I know will be an unforgettable experience.

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