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Lacrossed stars

July 15, 2010 | 11:05 am

Iroquois What's the first thing you think of when you hear "lacrosse"? Probably not Iroquois, but the tribe was among the founders of the game, about 1,000 years ago.

Today, an Iroquois lacrosse team is having a little more trouble with its signature game. They're supposed to play in the world championships in Manchester, Britain, but the British government has said, "Not with those funny passports, you don't."

As subjects of a sovereign government that stretches from the United States into Canada, the Iroquois carry the "Haudenosaunee" passports of their tribal nation, and those passports haven't been beefed up to meet current global security requirements. Team members could get U.S. and/or Canadian passports -- and they've already received special permission from the U.S. government -- but they see this as a matter of ethnic pride. According to the most recent reports, they're still huddled at a New York airport, awaiting word from Britain, after forfeiting their first game.

Given the shortness of time, maybe the British government could lighten up a bit. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who ordered the last-minute reprieve on this side of the Atlantic, obviously doesn't consider the team to be a security risk.

But the Iroquois and other sovereign Indian nations should be forewarned: The ethnic-identity argument doesn't overrule international security concerns. In the future, either they bring their passports up to standards, accept U.S. (or Canadian or Mexican passports, as the case may be) passports or stay at home with their sticks.

-- Karin Klein

Photo: Percy Abrams of the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team board of directors, holding his Haudenosaunee passport. Credit: Bebeto Matthews / Associated Press

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