Betty Lyons, president and executive director of the American Indian Law Alliance (AILA), is an Indigenous and environmental activist and citizen of the Onondaga Nation. Her native name, Gaen hia uh, meaning 'small sky,' was given to her by her Snipe Clan mother and has developed her love for the earth from her deep connection to her culture.
Growing up Lyons learned a deep respect for the earth and the responsibility to protect it. Lyons worked together with the NOON organization (Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation) to educate and teach local communities about the culture of the Onondaga Nation to further a better understanding and to bridge the gap between the communities.
Lyons sits on the advisory board of a number of organizations, including the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Seminary in NYC, the Connie Hogarth Center for Social Action at Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y., the Indigenous Values Initiative located in Haudenosaunee territories, as well as the Advisory Circle of the Women's Building in New York City.
Lyons participated and organized rallies and demonstrations pushing for a ban on fracking in New York State, until a ban was achieved in December, 2014. She has worked for the Onondaga Nation for nearly twenty years and worked for many years as a paralegal in Syracuse, N.Y. She is also the hardworking mother of Garett and Sid Jr.