Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

July 12, 2015 — No team left behind?

In 2010, the Haudenosaunee men’s senior lacrosse team representing the indigenous Iroquois of the United States and Canada were not allowed to travel on their Haudenosaunee passports to the FIL Men’s World Cup in England.

Five years later, the U-19 women’s team from the Iroquois Nation was similarly denied travel privileges to the World Cup in Scotland. A few days ago, the team withdrew from the tournament, and the talk about this situation is likely to continue for some time.

That’s because the Haudenosaunee have been making a social and political statement about national sovereignty in an atmosphere in which Western governments have been particularly active in fighting against non-state actors in the current “War on Terror.”

Like the Iroquois Nation, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) exist across international borders. But at the very least, Canada and the United States allow a certain measure of sovereignty for the First Nations peoples who live on Native lands.

But Native American tribes are not recognized as countries under the 1933 Montevideo Convention. That convention defines a nation-state as having a permanent population, a defined territory, a government, and the capacity to enter into diplomatic relations with other states, so long as the territory was not gained by force or arms, diplomatic sanctions, or other effective coercive measures.

That being the case, it befuddles me why the people who run Haudenosaunee lacrosse have tried to have teams travel outside of North America on more than one occasion only to have their passports rejected. And the rejection came not only because they were not up to international security standards, but because the Haudenosaunee does not have the capacity to enter diplomatic relations with the country in question: the United Kingdom.

I therefore think the people running the Haudenosaunee program have some responsibility to bear here. Under no circumstances should the effort that these players and coaches and sponsors have put forth over the last few months have been allowed to go to waste. That being said, I really feel for head coach Regy Thorpe and the players on the team who have seen their dreams dashed.


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