U.S. Congressman Brings Iroquois Issue to Floor
from staff reports
Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.) brought the Iroquois Nationals' passport impasse to Congress on Wednesday, demanding a resolution.
Although the U.S. State Department has issued a waiver for the team to travel to the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championships in Manchester, England on Iroquois Confederacy-issued passports, the British Consulate has refused to issue visas. The debate is one of the sovereignty of the Haudenosaunee people, players said, and they have refused offers for expedited U.S. passports.
Maffei delivered this speech on the floor of the House at approximately 4:30 p.m. Wednesday:
“Madame Speaker, I rise to give the House an update on the
situation concerning the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse team trying to
travel to the 2010 World Lacrosse Championship in Great Britain.
Madame Speaker I rose this morning to talk about how this team is
trying to travel to this, and they are trying to travel on their
own passports as an indigenous people. They were not allowed to
board the plane multiple times.
“Since I last reported to the House, the State Department, because of the direct intervention of the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has become involved, and the State Department has issued an assurance to the British government that indeed these folks, this team, that has already subjected themselves all the security considerations, including a full bio-scan, fingerprints and other background checks, would be allowed back in the United States and is a legitimate team.
“However, Madame Speaker, the British have not yet decided whether or not to let this team into this international competition. Madame Speaker, the 2010 World Lacrosse Championships are being hosted in Great Britain. The Iroquois nationals represent the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, or as they call it, the Haudenosaunee people. This team was invited not to compete for the United States or Canada or any other country other than the Iroquois Country. They were invited because of their own national identity. And so it seems particularly odd and contradictory that the British Government would require them to have passports of a country that they don’t feel that they’re representing.
“Now, we do have many examples of times in our history when we’ve had people who have stood up for principle and have not been able to compete. In 1924, a Scottish Olympic star named Eric Little did not want to compete on the Sabbath. He was told that he would not be able to participate in the 1924 Olympics because of that. In the movie, “Chariots of Fire” which was an Academy Award winning movie in 1981, this was chronicled. In that movie he was called a true man of principle, a true athlete. His speed is a mere extension of his life as force, and we sought to sever his running from himself.
“Madame Speaker, if the British or any national entity seeks to sever this Iroquois Nationals team from their own national identity, then they’re asking them to not be the athletes that they are. I urge the British government to do everything in their power to make sure that given, once safety considerations are met, that this team be allowed to travel to Great Britain and to be allowed to compete.
“These Iroquois, or Haudenosaunee, were the inventors of the game of lacrosse. It would be an international embarrassment if they’re not allowed to compete. They have been allowed to compete in other countries, such as Australia and Japan. We cannot lose the forest through the trees. We can not just look at some bureaucratic excuse, particularly for the country that is allegedly going to host the Olympics in 2012 in London. If they’re going to host an international game, they have to be ready to welcome an international team.”