John Chidley A blog about reading, writing, pop culture and sports.


A low day in lacrosse history

The Iroquois Nationals in New York City's Times Square as they await their travel visas.

As of this morning the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team continues to be banned from entering the United Kingdom and therefore will likely be unable to participate in the 2010 World Lacrosse Championships in Manchester this week.

At issue is the Iroquois’ use of their Haudenosaunee passports, documents that for 33 years have been accepted by Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries.

Unfortunately, as all the citizens of Fortress North America know, in the wake of 9/11 stricter travel regulations have been put in place and the British now refuse to accept the low-tech passports that do not have any bar codes or electronic chips.

The Iroquois Nationals were scheduled to play England in the tournament’s first match later today, but instead the host nation is going to scrimmage with Germany.

The Iroquois are still hoping to make it to the tournament, but right now their participation is highly doubtful and they will be hard pressed to win the championship, having defaulted a game.

They’ll have a lot of hoops to jump through before they can play – although the American government has given them a one-time waiver at the behest of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, they still need approval from the Canadian and British governments.

As I said on Monday, it’s a ridiculous situation. Ultimately, we’re talking about a group of people being barred from playing a sport they invented, because no one is sure they’ll return to a continent they’re indigenous to.

It’s madness.

One of the most disappointing parts of this story is that its roots lie in the best of intentions. The Iroquois have a national team as a nod to the native roots of lacrosse and the Haudenosaunee passports have been available to the Iroquois people for decades because their traditional lands straddle the Canadian-American border.

Although it’s obvious that the Haudenosaunee passports could use an upgrade, it’s apparent that the Canadian and American governments were negligent in excluding the Iroquois and other native peoples  from their new security strategy.

Why did no one foresee a day when an Iroquois passport holder would want to travel outside of the United States and Canada? Couldn’t this have been avoided?

This tournament has been scheduled for four years, so it’s shocking that the three state departments involved could find a way to accommodate the Iroquois.

It’s my sincere hope that if the Nationals are unable to participate in the tournament, the 29 teams from other countries find a way to show their support for their Iroquois friends.  One option would be for the other lacrosse teams, particularly the American and Canadian teams, to wear purple armbands as a show of solidarity.

Of course, the ideal solution would be for the British government to smarten up and agree to allow the 47 members of the team into the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, any chance to avoid one of the most disappointing episodes in lacrosse history has almost passed.