The Controversy Surrounding The Iroquois Nation And Their Passports

by erin on July 22, 2010

It seems that passports are in the news a lot lately and recently there was an incident report involving the Iroquois lacrosse team. They were going to England to compete in the World Championships. They were not permitted to leave because they possessed 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 several opinions surrounding this incident and this situation. There has never been a time in history when the threat of terrorism has been greater. Additional restrictions are being implements to improve national security in all nations around the world. The Iroquois passports do not contain the standard anti-fraud devices that are present in other regularly issued passports which make it easier for them to land in the hands of a criminal or terrorist and be used successfully if restrictions were not implemented on them.

There are others who feel that tradition has been for the Iroquois to issue their own passports for reasons of pride and these have always been sufficient in the past and their validity should be continued. However, we all know that times are changing and never before has the threat of terrorism been so great. While the Iroquois Nation feels they are being singled out and should not be considered a risk, the lack of anti-fraud technology on the passports make them a potential problem.

The game of lacrosse was created by the Iroquois Indians long ago so they take a lot of pride in the sport. With the cancellation of their own passports, they were forced to get a US passport quick and this was very demeaning to them. A view held by coach echoes the sentiments that this type of treatment goes against the free expression of the native American Indian heritage and can cost the team the opportunity to play in the championship game of the sport that was their idea in the first place.

Certainly, United States passports are very important documents. They are so valuable that they are often stolen or forged and counterfeited so it is important that all safeguards available are used concerning their issue and use. It is offensive to these native Americans to realize that every year, convicted sex offenders and murders who have served their time are permitted to get passports but the Iroquois passports so rich with heritage and culture are considered void causing them to have to get a US passport quick. There is certainly a lot to consider here but our national security and that of other nations must always be our prime motive regarding this issue.

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