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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Iroquois Lacrosse Scandal

With the World Championships set to start tomorrow, this black eye is now plaguing our sport and nation. It is a disgrace to the players, fans, and sport.
British Consulate Delay Iroquois Nationals
NEDROW, N.Y. – The Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse team is scheduled to play the opening game in the 2010 World Lacrosse Championships in England, but the British Consulate has refused to recognize the team’s Haudenosaunee passports and has delayed issuing travel visas while awaiting assurance from the U.S. State Department that the group will be allowed back into the United States.The 23-member team and their entourage of family members, supporters, and fans – around 50 people altogether – are to be fingerprinted for visas at the British Consulate in New York on Monday morning, July 12. The hope is that the State Department will tell the consulate by then that the team and entourage will be allowed to return to the U.S. If that happens, the team will depart for England that evening.

Lacrosse Forums poster Sincere 22 had this to say about the situation:
As of today, the US State Department is refusing to recognize the passports issued by the Haudenosaunee, and thus are eliminating any hope that the Iroquois Nationals team has to compete in this years 2010 World Lacrosse Championships. I find this unacceptable. This team has a citizen from each of the Six Nations representing our people, our culture, our identity, and they are strong athletes playing the Creators gift to us: lacrosse.

Sincere 22 also included a letter from the Iroquois Nationals Team, and our friend Ansley Jemison is the General Manager of the team, that it is supported by every citizens of every Haudenosaunee Territory:

Dear Friends,

The Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team's travel documents were declared unacceptable for travel by the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security at 4 pm, July 8, 2010. This is traumatic to the Iroquois Nationals' travel schedule and budget. The Board of Directors, Travel Committee, Coaches, Staff and Team of almost 50 people are struggling to convince the Department of State and Homeland Security to accept our travel documents so that our All-American team can compete as a nation against team Canada, team USA, team England, team Australia and team Japan in the premiere Blue Division of the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) at the FIL World Lacrosse Championships hosted by England at Manchester from July 15 to 24, 2010. The game of De-hon-tshi-gwa' ehs (Lacrosse) has become an inspiration to a third of the world's youth – 109 countries in all. The long-stick game is a gift to the world from the Haudenosaunee, the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy. It would be strange – beyond strange, indeed – if the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team, the national team of the Haudenosaunee were denied participation in the World Lacrosse Championships by agencies of the United States. We are perplexed by this position taken by the Obama Administration. Since the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team's admittance to the Federation of International Lacrosse in 1983, the team has participated in every world competition as a member nation, flying our own colors, singing our own anthemand traveling on our own Haudenosaunee passports to England (1985, 1994), Australia and Japan. As citizens we have traveled internationally on our own passports since 1977. We do not take this issue of passports lightly. We have traversed our request with the utmost respect for the sovereignty of the nations involved. As Indigenous Peoples of North America, we have over 200 years of treaties and international relations with our brother, the United States. We need your support to help convince the U.S. to accommodate our travel to Manchester, England. The Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team and Team England are scheduled to open the World Lacrosse Championships at 7:00 pm Thursday July 15th. This is a call for support. We want to ensure that Native Peoples should not be told they cannot leave or cannot return to their homelands. Please contact the White House at 202.456.4771 to express your support for our clearance to leave and return to participate in the World Lacrosse Championships in Manchester, England, as soon as possible. Let us know you did so by emailing also email White House Indian Affairs senior staff Kimberly TeeHee at and two State Department officials, Kathleen Milton at and Lynn Sicade at

Thank you for your support. When we win, you win.
Day na to, Joagquisho,
Oren R. Lyons
Honorary Chairman

Please read the letter above. Show your support of our American Indian brothers and inventors of the game that we all hold so dearly. Forward this letter to friends and family members that support lacrosse, American Indian rights, or both. Contact the individuals listed within the letter and let them know that you are displeased with their actions.
It is our duty as Americans to respect the rights of our country men, especially those that we have slighted many times in the past. It is our duty as lacrosse players to support those that gave us this game.
Thank you.

Edit: I had this prepared earlier today to post after the scheduled start time for tonight's games (I wanted the cancellation to remain the top). After writing this, forwarding the letter to our league, and writing my own letter to the government officials listed above, I learned of a change in the situation. The US government has given clearance to the Iroquois passports. They are currently awaiting similar clearance from Canada before heading over to Manchester.
The bad news is that the team is scheduled to play in the opening game tomorrow. Considering the jet lag involved, I sincerely hope that another team is able to switch with the Iroquois. In light of the circumstances, I strongly believe our own national team should step forward and play in their stead. However, it looks like they may be forced to forfeit their opening game:
THE Iroquois Nationals are expected to be in Manchester tomorrow for the opening day of the 2010 FIL World Championships. But if they do not turn up in time for their opening match, then they will be forced to forfeit the game. The team are due to face England (pictured right) at 7.30pm in the opening match of the tournament at the University of Manchester Armitage Centre, but have faced travel visa problems over the last few days in their attempt to reach the tournament.

I wonder to what degree the public outcry affected the decision. From what I have gathered, the response by the various tribes around the country was great. But the response from the general citizenry was even greater. New Mexico Governor and former Presidential candidate Bill Richardson even addressed the issue personally in a plea to settle the issue in favor of the Iroquois.

7/15/10 Edit 2: Here is an article that expands on Kurt's comment. It is a shame that the game's originators and fourth ranked team may not be able to compete at all. Ironically, it was a contingent of Iroquois that introduced the game to the British Isles almost a century and a half ago.

Tribe 7