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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.

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