Inventing Lacrosse Apparently Not Enough to Get Iroquois to Lacrosse Championship

The invention of lacrosse is usually credited to Native Americans, and specifically the Iroquois. The World Lacrosse Championship begins this week in England. If you can't figure out that there's a passport issue at the crux of this story, I recommend Bureaucracy 101. (Well, not really.)

⇥Instead of flying to England today for the 2010 World Lacrosse Championships, members of the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team will take a bus to New York City where they hope to convince the British Consulate and U.S. State Department to let them travel.⇥⇥

⇥England would not let the team into the country because some team members and staff travel on passports issued by the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois confederacy), said Ansley Jemison, the team’s general manager. The British officials wanted confirmation that the United States will allow them back into the country, he said.⇥⇥

⇥

⇥“There was an issue when (officials) said, ‘Are you an American citizen, a U.S. citizen, whatever your citizenship is,’” Jemison said. “Our people had a hard time answering that. We identify ourselves as who we are: We are indigenous people of North America, and that line was drawn in the sand by somebody other than us.”⇥⇥

The Iroquois aren't the first or last Native American tribe to be caught in a legal gray area. Passports issued by Native American tribes aren't considered legal passports (PDF), and requiring birth certificates for passport applications has been problematic for people born outside of hospitals. The team says it's been traveling with no problem for 30 years on these passports, and it's unlikely this won't end with the team making it to Manchester after jumping through the proper hoops. (It's not even clear what made this particular trip the troublesome one; British officials worrying about whether the Iroquois can return to the U.S. seems a bit convenient.)

But today, the team will be getting biometric scans and paying a $5,000 visa fee, and stands to lose thousands more on cancelled hotel and transportation costs. Basically, inventing a game that the world comes to love will not get you enough respect to have your sovereign nation's passports count for something when it comes time to venture into the world to play the game. That's a bit more than inconvenient.

(HT: SportsGrid.)

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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