UPDATED: The Iroquois Are NOT Traveling To Manchester (Right Now)


UPDATE #3: According to USLacrosse, James Cameron has donated $50,000 to the Iroquois to help them defray the costs associated with their travel delay.  The Iroquois are still in NYC and are still trying to get to Manchester.  Right now the plan seems to be to continue to apply pressure to the British and Canadian governments asking them to honor the Haudenosaunee passports with the US’ State Departments one-time exemption for a clean return to this country after the games.  The opening game has been replaced with an England-Germany scrimmage but the Iroquois are still hoping to make it to the Games by Friday.

UPDATE #2: According to the 2010 Championships blog, the Iroqouis will NOT be traveling to Manchester as the British government is now refusing to issue the visas required for travel to the country.  People will probably make excuses that it’s an issue of national security but it is clearly just bureaucracy at its worst and a complete lack of common sense and human decency.  I’m biased because of my love of lacrosse but I personally find this kind of government interference and willful obstinance incredibly saddening.  There was time when we were united in the spirt of honest competition and sport brought nations together.  If this situation isn’t miraculously reversed it will be a dark day for government, but not lacrosse.  Our thoughts go out to the Iroquois Team.

UPDATE: The Iroquois players that were born South of the Canadian border have been cleared to travel but the players born North of the border have not.  The Team was supposed to fly out of New York City’s JFK Airport today for Amsterdam, which would have allowed them to get to Manchester in the early afternoon on Thursday before their first game against the English following the Opening Ceremonies.  If they leave tomorrow, they may not be able to make their first game according to the schedule as it currently stands.  With such a good team in 2010, it would be a shame to not let them make the game up as it will affect seeding for the medal games.  Updates will continue to be published as we get them.

Evidently our Secretary of State, Hilary Rodham Clinton, has stepped in and granted the Iroquois a one-time exemption permitting them to travel to Manchester, England for the World Games.

The hold up was an issue over whether the Iroquois’ passports would allow them back into the US when they returned after the games.  If the US said yes, which our government recently did, then the UK would be willing to issue them visas, knowing that the Iroquois could return through American airports and customs.  Many of the Iroquois travel on non-US government issued passports that the Native American confederacies are able to issue because of their sovereign state within a state status.

Many of the Native American confederacies, whether they are in New York or New Mexico, issue their own passports but their current versions do not meet US guidelines as per Homeland Security regulations.  It seems like the first steps have been taken to update the confederacies’ passports to get them up to code but as of yet this has not happened.

Here’s Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s (NY) take on the situation:

While I am sensitive to the national security protections afforded by U.S. passport process, and believe that long term policy considerations need to be duly weighed, I am concerned that New York and other U.S residents will be unable to travel and proudly represent their nations at a sporting event originating from their traditions unless a timely a timely solution can be found.

Not too shabby for the rookie Senator.

The Iroquois refused to travel on US visas as they consider themselves members of their own nation.  Seeing as they are going to play in the World Games as their nation’s only national team, I think that’s only fair.  We’re glad to see the US State Department come to its senses and make it work for the Iroquois and more or less on their terms.

The world has received the gift that is lacrosse but historically, we as a nation have taken so much from the many Native American tribes, the very least we could do was to help a small group of them travel on their own passports so they could play the game, their Creator’s Game, that they have played for 1,000 years.  Hoping the UK visas get sorted out soon.  On to Manchester!

Story from the AP with all the details… and here is a very thorough article from the Washington Post on the issue.

And finally if you haven’t read this Sport Illustrated article then you are missing out!  It’s really long but you’ll learn more about where this wonderful game comes from so I truly recommend getting all the way through it!

About the Author: Connor is a life-long lacrosse player who doesn’t know when to give up on the game. He played and coached at Wesleyan University and now plays for the Southampton LC in NYC. Connor lives with his fiance in Brooklyn and thanks her for allowing him to keep the dream alive.

Contact him at connor@lacrosseallstars.com.


  1. Connor, please help me understand…. the UK said they would allow them in if the US would make assurances they could return. Mrs. Clinton provided that assurance, and now David Cameron and his pals are countermanding? When you learn their explaination please share.

    • have to agree here, did they really only realize 4 days before the competition that there would be problems? there were 20 other teams that managed to get their visas in line in time…maybe we need to have a US-Canada-Iroquois mini-tournament somewhere in Upstate New York in August, those three were really the main contenders anyways right?

      • It SEEMS like the Iroquois may have been aware of the situation on some level… their point is that they are a SOVEREIGN nation and should be able to travel on their own passports. They were willing to not travel if they couldn't use their own Nation's documentation. It was a matter of principle for them… why play if you can't truly represent your nation?

        By accepting US or Canadian Passports it would have been a compromise on an issue they were not willing to bend on: their sovereign status and desire to be recognized as a real nation in the eyes of the rest of the world. Laxers recognize them as a Nation, unfortunately, the US and UK governments were not as understanding.

        I understand why the teams already there won't boycott the games… there is too much $ at stake and that is sad.

        In the future, World Games locations should only be selected if the host country recognizes the Haudenosaunee passports. I've seen pics of them and they look about as legit as the US passport. THey lack electonic info evidently.

        THe US govt is helping the Iroquois update their passports but it's costing the Nation 1.5M dollars to do so. that sounds fair! meet our standards, oh and pay 1.5M to do it, even though you are your own nation. F'd up big time that our govt would exert its will over a proud indigenous people once again with no pause. shameful actions by govts on both sides of the Atlantic.

        • They also contain hand written information on them as well and are significantly easier to Forge.

          The issue isn't that they can't travel on their own passports as a sovereign nation. The issue is that in order to get back to their sovereign nation they need to enter into either the United States or Canada to do it.

          • Your second point WAS the issue. It isn't anymore. The US has granted them a one-time exemption though so they can get back in and travel on their own documents.
            Right now, the UK won't issue the required visas because they don't recognize the Haudenosaunee passports as valid travel documents, even though they said they would recongnize them as long as the US agreed to officially let the Iroquois back in, which the US did.
            I am sure they are easier to forge but so are a number of other passports and that really isn't the point. The team would be allowed to travel but only if they accept US or Canadian documents… they were unwilling to be forced into our systems and ways… and after going through that kind of nonsense for over 250 years, I can see their point. Both the UK and US governments OWE the Iroquois for what our predecessors did… honoring their passports would be one small step in the right direction yet we refuse to do so because of “rules” we made up that barely even work anyway. It's a load of political BS where large, powerful countries feel totally ok by giving the shaft to indigenous peoples. SHAMEFUL.

          • I'm just relaying the information I've scrounged up (regarding the differences in passports). And I don't think the UK said they'd recognize the passports… they said they wouldn't issue any visas if the US didn't take these players back. It seems like minor semantics, but there is quite the difference.

            Ultimately, the United States has done their part (albeit a little to late), and the Iroquois know now that thier Haudenosaunee passports need to be overhauled to comply with North American standards.

            The issue now stems with the UK and not recognizing these Haudenosaunee passports. Not really a United States issue anymore.

            At first I was decidedly in the corner of the Iroquois, but it is starting to seem like they didn't bother to check any of this information out ahead of time. I understand visas and that are often not processed until a couple of weeks before hand, but I'm sure the requirements for getting said visa were available for the past 4 years.

            The whole internal squabble with the US was unforseeable, but the issue with the UK wasn't. It should have been caught a long time ago and someone dropped the ball.

          • my guess is that they knew about the issue on some level but this isn't just about getting it done so you can travel, it is about sovereign status and principle.

            I see what you're saying about the differences in your first paragraph… the US has officially said they'll allow the players to return so now the UK should issue the visas but their consulate said that they don't recognize the passports so now they still won't issue the visas even though the US has said the Iroquois players can return home. seems like they should have mentioned the passports issue earlier… would have been helpful instead of just blaming the US and then backtracking… talk about semantics!

          • I understand their stance on their sovereingty and that they don't just want to get an American or Canadian passport, and I agree the US (and in other cases Canada) haven't done a good enough job making sure that they do get the Haudenosaunee passports up to snuff (both communicating information as well as providing ways to get it done).

            The problem is now that the UK is saying they don't recognize the Haudenosaunee passports (for the record, I've copied and pasted the hell out of that word in the last 2 days). Yeah, the UK pulled a bit of a dink move in not clarifying at the beginning of this situation that they don't recognize those passports, but I don't think they came to that conclusion just now, and if they didn't it means someone dropped the ball well before it got to this point.

            Either the Iroquois team didn't look into it, or someone on the UK side gave them bad information. Neither instance would surprise me.

            Ultimately, the Iroquois team is out a lot of money and the lacrosse world loses out due to bureaucracy and a lack of communication by all parties invovled. Both Canada and the United States need to do a better job of getting this passport recognized as a world entity. If Italy can do it with the vatican, there is no reason why Canada and the US can't with the Iroquois.