The U-19 Haudenosaunee Women’s Lacrosse Team has dropped out of the World Field Lacrosse Championships which they were to compete in in Edinburgh Scotland at the end of this month.
Once again, Haudenosaunee passports they intended to travel on, were not acceptable according to Canadian, American and Scottish border crossing policies.
Sound familiar? The Men’s Iroquois Nationals ran into the same roadblock in 2010. In that case, the Men’s team chose not to attend rather than travel under what they believe to be a foreign passport.
Kathy Smith, Haudenosaunee Nation Women’s Lacrosse Board, Chairman, made the decision official with an email statement addressed to players, staff and the FIL Under-19 World Championships governing body.
“It is important for you to know that this situation is not anyone’s fault. The UK requires security standards that our Haudenosaunee passports do not meet so they were willing to allow us to travel on Haudenosaunee passports along with a Canadian or American passport. The Confederacy would not agree to this because we are not Canadian or American citizens.”
A official media release published by Team Haudenosaunee, Tuesday by Smith on behalf of the team reads in part:
After months of trying to find a way into Scotland that was acceptable to both the United Kingdom and our Haudenosaunee Confederacy, we have been unsuccessful. This is a long standing political issue based on the lack of recognition of our Haudenosaunee people as a sovereign nation by some countries. The United Kingdom, being one of these countries, required our team to travel on Canadian and American passports. This is unacceptable to the Confederacy because we are not Canadian or American citizens. Our ancestors were on Turtle Island, known today as North America, before Canada and the United States were created. We continue to exist today as a separate, sovereign nation and we cannot undermine this position by using other countries’ passports. However, we understand and respect the right of the United Kingdom to protect their country and their citizens.
“We are extremely proud of our U19 team and sad that they will not have the opportunity to show the world the natural talent, heart and spirit they possess. We wish our athletes all the best and we hope to see them competing in future FIL world events.”
As disappointing as it is for the team and coaches who have poured so much into getting ready for the event, many are seeing the withdrawal as a proud statement for Haudenosaunee sovereignty and national pride.
“I speak for our staff when I say that it has been a pleasure to coach this team,” says the Haudenosaunee’s assistant coach and former Georgetown All-American Maggie Koch. “It is an unfortunate situation. I respect The Confederacy’s decision to withdraw from the games. I feel very sad for this group of incredibly talented young women but have hope that down the road they will have the opportunity to represent the Haudenosaunee at the senior women’s level.”
The story has garnered several blog comments.
“They can use their Haudenosaunee passports along with a US or Canadian passport? Then what the heck is the sense of the Haudenosaunee passport? That’s like saying, yes, we will accept that Mickey Mouse sticker as a passport as long as you have a US or Canadian passport with it. Ridiculous. Other countries let them travel on them, what is the UK’s problem? Bitter much?,” blogs Kandice Watson, Director of Cultural Outreach at Oneida Indian Nation.
“Fantastic! Good for them :) If more of us stood up for our ‘citizenship’ then we would be recognized as the sovereign nations we are!,” blogs Jodi Branton.
“It sucks for the girls not getting to play it really does, but I’m proud of them, that they took a stand and refused to be forced to say they are Canadian or American citizens, but are proud members of the Iroquois Confederacy and will not bow to the powers that be, Niawen Kowa,” writes Brian Delormier
“It is disheartening that these girls aren’t allowed into Scotland to play the CREATORS game,” writes Kristal Green. “Also something that should have been rectified by now…these girls have worked and played hard to get where they are to prove they’re the best and should be shouting from the rooftops! Kudos to the Confederacy for sticking to the original passports and not forcing these girls to get ones the Scottish will accept!!”
Others were not as conciliatory.
“This is BS,” writes columnist and podcaster, John Kane. “There is fault to be laid here. For the U.S., Canada or the UK to deny our people the right to freely travel without claiming their citizenship is a crime. This violates Human Rights Conventions, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and international discrimination laws. I also find it hard to believe that this would have occurred with our male athletes again. We have seen gender bias demonstrated by “Traditionals” as it relates to women playing lacrosse many times. This is a travesty.”