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Column: Onondaga faith keeper's work Nobel worthy

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  • Robert Schmidt
    http://www.missoulian.com/articles/2008/09/28/jodirave/rave26.txt Column: Onondaga faith keeper s work Nobel worthy - Sunday, September, 2008 By JODI RAVE of
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30, 2008

      Column: Onondaga faith keeper's work Nobel worthy - Sunday, September, 2008

      By JODI RAVE of the Missoulian

      OSLO, Norway - On a recent trip to Norway, some fellow journalists and I
      kept driving past the Nobel Peace Center in the central part of Oslo as we
      made our way between museums and restaurants.

      I thought of the incredible men and women who have been bestowed the Nobel
      Peace Prize, including Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Mother
      Teresa. Those names have become household words.

      While this year's nomination period has come and gone, another name may
      soon likely join their ranks - Oren Lyons.
      The Norwegian Nobel Committee has been awarding the peace prize since 1901,
      bestowing one of the world's highest honors upon leaders whose work
      reflects a “fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of
      standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

      On Oct. 10, the Nobel Peace Committee will announce the next Nobel Peace
      Price winner.

      Lyons, a faith keeper of the Onondaga Nation, is the most inspiring,
      responsible, admirable, honest and intellectual leader I've ever seen. I
      was recently reminded of his quiet yet influential leadership role when he
      addressed a cross-cultural gathering of traditional elders and youth on the
      Flathead Reservation.

      “The mission of our circle, number one, is peace - peace among ourselves,
      peace among the nations, peace for our world that surrounds us, that's our
      mission,” said Lyons who shared his message among a group whose members
      have been meeting since 1973, an initiative sponsored by the Bozeman-based
      American Indian Institute.

      The group's message is rooted in Native prophecies that foretell a time of
      rapid change on Earth. The prophecies also assure that indigenous people's
      ancient knowledge of nature will allow them to survive heavy burdens,
      violent conflicts and large-scale world migration.

      “People are more aware now,” said Lyons. “All the things we've been saying
      for years and years are beginning to pass.”

      The American Indian Institute is helping the traditional elders group share
      their knowledge with non-Natives who want to restore balance to an Earth
      ravaged by corporations and the individuals who turn to them for cheap
      manufactured goods and unsustainable energy consumption.

      “This is now the time, the time when our message will resonate and the
      world will respond,” said Lyons, who acknowledged friends from Sweden who
      arrived on the Flathhead Reservation to help spread the traditional group's
      message to all parts of the globe. The Native message of peace and
      restoration often falls upon deaf ears in the United States.

      “The whole world loves Indians - except in America,” said Lyons, who has
      been at the forefront of securing international human rights for indigenous
      people for the past three decades. The fruits of that work culminated last
      September when the U.N. General Assembly passed the Declaration on the
      Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

      The Nobel Peace Committee has awarded its prize to a wide range of people,
      a group mostly comprising humanitarians, human rights activists and peace
      seekers tough on arms control or disarmament. Last year, the Nobel
      committee awarded its prize to Al Gore and the U. N.'s Intergovernmental
      Panel on Climate Change, a team of world scientists that included the
      University of Montana's Steve Running.

      Who can forget the committee's reason for bestowing its award to the global
      warming experts?

      “Extensive climate changes may alter and threaten the living conditions of
      much of mankind,” said the committee. “They may induce large-scale
      migration and lead to greater competition for the Earth's resources. Such
      changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world's most
      vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts
      and wars, within and between states.”

      Those times are here.

      Unfortunately, many of us have not seen nor experienced the effects of
      climate change. But the Arctic ice caps are melting. Indigenous peoples in
      the northern tiers of the planet are being forced to relocate to higher
      ground as seas and oceans swallow up their homes and coastal lands.

      Last October, I stood on the tundra landscapes of northern Norway where the
      land should have been covered in snow. It was raining instead.

      A select group of people can nominate peace prize candidates, including
      members of an international court, a national assembly, previous peace
      prize winners, board members of organizations who have won the prize,
      Norwegian Nobel Committee members, former Norwegian Nobel Institute
      advisers, university rectors, professors of social sciences, history,
      philosophy, law, theology, or directors of peace research institutes and
      foreign policy institutes.

      A Native person from the United States has never been awarded the Nobel
      Peace Prize.

      His time is coming.

      Reporter Jodi Rave can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or at
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