Lewis O'Brien was born at the Point Pearce mission. He became a ward of the state at the age of thirteen and lived with several foster families. He trained as a fitter and turner with the South Australian Railways and later joined the merchant navy.
O'Brien has spent much of his life helping the Aboriginal community in South Australia. He was involved in the Aboriginal Council of South Australia in the 1970s. He also held the postion of Liasion Officer with the Education Department. 'Reviving the Dreaming' was a project O'Brien started to preserve and develop Aboriginal culture.
Since 1990, O'Brien, a Kaurna elder, has taken on the role of doing 'Welcome to Country'. He has also been involved with the Aboriginal Advancement League, Education Department's Curriculum Committee, Kaurna Heritage Committee and was chair of the State Council of Aboriginal Elders.