Iroquois LAX Team Still Stuck In U.S. : The Two-Way Iroquois LAX Team Still Stuck In U.S.
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Iroquois LAX Team Still Stuck In U.S.

Brett Bucktooth, a member of the Iroquois national lacrosse team and Syracuse University's 2004 national championship squad, visits Times Square, New York, Monday, July 12, 2010. BEBETO MATTHEWS/AP hide caption

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The Iroquois nation's lacrosse team was still unable on Tuesday to get on a flight to Europe where its members hopes to compete in the world lacrosse championships starting Thursday in England.

As was reported All Things Considered and elsewhere, the problem for the Iroquois team is that since 1977 they have used passports issued by the Iroquois nation to travel outside the U.S.

But passport controls have been tightened in the U.S. and elsewhere, a reaction to the 9/11 attacks.

The stricter requirements for passports caused the British government to question whether the U.S. would allow the Iroquois team members to return to the states with their unusual passports.

Meanwhile, the Iroquois refuse to obtain U.S. passports, if only this once, because they don't accept U.S. citizenship for themselves.

When U.S. officials said they couldn't guarantee the Indians would be allowed to return to American soil, the Britisn balked at issuing visas to the Iroqouis.

An excerpt from the Associated Press:

Members of an Iroquois lacrosse team who refuseto travel on U.S. passports were barred from getting on a flightTuesday to the sport's world championship tournament because of adispute over their passports.

The 23 members of the New York-based squad arrived at a Deltaterminal at Kennedy International Airport wearing team jackets andshirts. Their manager, Ansley Jemison, didn't expect to be allowedto board their flight to Amsterdam and wasn't surprised to beturned away at the check-in desk.

U.S. officials previously informed the team that new securityrules for international travelers meant that their old passports -low-tech, partly handwritten documents issued by a tribal authority- wouldn't be honored.

But by showing up, the team avoided forfeiting its tickets. Theairline allowed the squad to rebook its flight for Wednesdaywithout penalty. Team officials remained hopeful that a last-minute diplomatic intervention would allow them to attend the World Lacrosse Championship, which is taking place in England.

As S.L. Price, a Sports Illustrated senior writer told ATC co-host Robert Siegel, an international lacrosse championship without the Iroquois team would be like the World Cup without an English team since the English take credit for inventing soccer just as the Iroquois are credited with creating lacrosse.

Meanwhile, the Indians are one of the best teams. An excerpt from Robert's conversation with Price:

PRICE: ... They are a formidable force at the top level of the game, and world championships without the Iroquois not only would lack something spiritual, in the sense that these are the game's inventors, but the very quality of the tournament would be greatly affected if they are not there.

ROBERT: Some of the players on the Iroquois national team have been very, very good U.S. lacrosse players in college, yes?

PRICE: Absolutely. A year and a half ago, Sid Smith, a defender for Syracuse and a Cayuga on the Iroquois Nationals team, made the play of the finals, stripped the Cornell player of the ball and passed it up field, got it up to Cody Jamieson, a teammate on the Nationals, who scored the game-winning goal in the final of the NCAA tournament.

This is a top-level team, and to not have the Iroquois at the world championships is something that would delegitimize, I feel, the world championships greatly.