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The Conundrum That Surrounds The Native Iroquois And Their Issued Passports

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Iroquois Passport

Once again, passports are the subject of the news. This time, it involves an entire lacrosse team. Here’s the story: The top-ranked Iroquois lacrosse team were traveling to England in order to participate in the World Championships. However, when they were leaving, they were denied because of their Iroquois passports.

With members from both Canada and the United States, this team is comprised of Iroquois Native Americans who are part of the Iroquois Nation, which has been issuing their own passports to its members that show their unique Iroquois heritage. However, without an American or Canadian passport, they aren’t being granted entrance into the United Kingdom, which is questioning the validity and legitimacy of such passports. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a one-time exception waiver for the team, so they could regain entrance into the United States after their tournament overseas. The UK did not accept this waiver.

There are a couple different opinions on the whole situation. One side attests that if they’re a citizen of the United States or Canada, as some of them are, they should be required to get their respective country’s passports just like everyone else. They feel that this team should not be an exception to the rule. Increasingly more countries are turning down these passports because they don’t feature the anti-fraud and anti-identity theft features that American passports feature, and this in itself poses a National Security risk as well as a personal risk for the members of the team.

The other side of the argument feels that the Iroquois have been issuing their own passports and traveling on them without any sort of problem in the past. But in the face of recent terrorist attacks and scares, the measures have been tightened, resulting in the current conundrum. The Iroquois Nation is backed by people who claim that it’s silly to regard some of the top athletes in the world as potential National Security threats.

And yet another side of the argument claims that this is just another attack on the Native American identity. They feel that the Iroquois, ironically enough the creators of the game of lacrosse, are being taken for granted and subjected to this discrepancy because of their native heritage, and that forcing them to get a passport quick is demeaning to the culture. This is where the coach of the team stands. He feels that they are being trapped in a corner where they either must abandon their Native identity or be forced to forfeit a chance at the National Championship title for a sport they themselves invented a thousand years ago.

The laws surrounding passports are surprisingly vague when it comes to issues like this. For example, a recent story in the news talks about how 4,500 sex criminals were issued passports in order to travel abroad. In these sort of cases, it seems difficult to create and enforce laws to restrict or allow international travel. Is being forced to get a passport quick an unfair measure? Has this been turned into an unnecessary political excuse to butt international heads? How do you feel about this issue? Should the once-accepted passports of the Iroquois Nation be turned down in order to further prevent National Security risks?