Lacrosse Champ Honoured

Haudenosaunee team founder took Indigenous players to the world stage.
Written by Nelle Oosterom Posted November 29, 2023

Onondaga Chief and lacrosse champion Oren Lyons has been awarded the Order of Sport and inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Born on the Onondaga Nation in New York, the ninety-three-year-old Lyons has been a player, coach, university professor, artist, activist, author, and Onondaga Nation Faithkeeper who helped to establish the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations.

An outstanding goaltender for several box lacrosse teams in the United States from the 1950s to the 1970s, Lyons went on to co-found the Iroquois Nationals (now the Haudenosaunee Nationals) in 1982. The only sovereign Indigenous team to compete in international lacrosse, the Nationals won bronze medals at the World Lacrosse Championships in 2014, 2019, and 2023.

“To the Haudenosaunee, it’s much more than a sport,” Lyons said in an interview with CBC Indigenous in September. “It’s a medicine game, and we’ve been playing it for over 1,600 years.” The Haudenosaunee include members of the Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, Mohawk, and Tuscarora First Nations.

Lyons has received many awards, but being inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame still caught him by surprise. “A good surprise, and you don’t get that kind of surprise this time of your life, I’ll tell you that,” said Lyons.

Also inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in October were softballer Phyllis Bomberry, mixed martial artist Georges St-Pierre, judoka Hiroshi Nakamura, wheelchair basketball player Danielle Peers, figure skating duo Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, and the Ferbey Four curling team of Randy Ferbey, Dave Nedohin, Scott Pfeifer, and Marcel Rocque.

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This article originally appeared in the December 2023-January 2024 issue of Canada’s History.

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