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Iroquois lacrosse team's passports not valid to enter world tourney in England

Percy Abrams, on Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team board of directors, shows his Iroquois Confederacy passport in New York Wednesday.

Associated Press

Percy Abrams, on Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team board of directors, shows his Iroquois Confederacy passport in New York Wednesday.

NEW YORK — The British government is refusing to allow an American Indian lacrosse team to travel to England using passports issued by the Iroquois Confederacy.

The decision Wednesday means the team will miss a world championship lacrosse competition in Manchester.

A British Consulate spokeswoman said the team would be able to travel only with documents the United Kingdom considers valid.

Tonya Gonnella Frichner, a member of the Onondaga Nation who works with the team, said it was told by British officials that members would have to use American or Canadian passports to travel to Britain.

The decision was announced hours after the United States cleared the team for travel on a one-time waiver at the behest of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The 23-member Iroquois team was unlikely to make today's first game of the Lacrosse World Championships in Manchester, England, said Oren Lyons, the team chairman and a chief of the Onondaga Nation. Nine team members are Canadian-born and still need Canadian waivers, team officials said.

"This has not been the best preparation for a world tournament," Lyons said.

The team's bus pulled up to an international terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport Wednesday afternoon, then pulled away shortly afterward; the team never got off.

Clinton determined that the team members born within U.S. borders did not need U.S. passports to make the trip and granted the players a "one-time-only waiver" to travel on their Iroquois passports, said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

Asked why the department had dropped its opposition, he said, "There was flexibility there to grant this kind of one-time waiver given the unique circumstances of this particular trip."

The Iroquois Confederacy oversees land that stretches from upstate New York into Ontario, Canada.

The Iroquois, known to members as the Haudenosaunee, helped invent lacrosse, perhaps as early as 1,000 years ago. Their participation in the once-every-four-year world championship tournament is a rare example of international recognition of their sovereignty.

Iroquois lacrosse team's passports not valid to enter world tourney in England 07/14/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 11:12pm]

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