While at SU, I took a semester long course through the Honors Program on the Haudenosaunee taught by a member of The 6 Nations. I deeply respect the history and traditions of the native people and very much enjoyed my visits to the reservation. The course was eye opening and insightful. I would recommend it to anyone at SU who has the opportunity to take it.
Some of the onus in the situation involving their lacrosse team needs to be on the people of The 6 Nations. Firstly, their agreement with the US and Canadian governments allows them to cross the border at will and is supposed to be without being subjected to the typical inspection. This is because parts of their territories are on both sides of the "imaginary line." Since the last World Lax tourney there have been several abuses of this agreement including last fall when there was a huge drug bust related to marijuana being trucked across the border for distribution in the US.
The agreement for providing the Haudenosaunee with recognition as an independent state and allowing border crossings is between the 6 Nations, the USA and Canada. England is not involved, does not recognize them as a state, and therefore does not acknowledge their passports. So while their passports are good for US-Canada crossings, it is not a free pass to go jet setting through Europe. If the native people wanted to be recognized they would have to have been proactive in the past and sought recognition from other governments. We would not recognize an Australian Aboriginal's homemade passport if they tried to use it at JFK. Now consider that there are hundreds of different Nations of Native People in the US. Its a lot of sovereign nations. It is very common for one government not to recognize the agreements of another and I could spend all day listing examples (but I have to work).
The "passport" that they are talking about here is a piece of red construction paper that may or may not be laminated depending on the owner. Ive seen them. If you didnt know what it was (ie were not a border patrolmen on the US-Canadian border) you would think its a bad joke. Think the worst fake ID you have ever seen, though it would still get you into Maggie's. Its not shocking that they got turned away at a customs department in the post 9/11 era, especially when combined with the recent drug trafficking violations.
This Lax tourney seems a lost cause at this point. However, for the future the 6 Nations People may want to consider investing some of their casino revenue in a campaign of international recognition, in some professional passports and hiring lawyers to defend their rights and sue on their behalves. If you visit the reservation and see all the people living in trailers its obvious its not getting distributed anyways (but thats another topic). Whatever the case maybe, violence and intimidation is NOT the way to get recognition and respect for their rights and claims.
My final paper for the course was a reflection on what we learned. It was titled "The Haudenosaunee People Need to Get Their Shit Together." I got an A. If they got organized, had some form of central government with authority (rather than anyone making deals and saying they are a chief, which is why half the reservation south of SU cant be built on - its a flood plane because some random guy took a deal with the US army) and got that government and its leaders recognized by outside governments, they could be making money hand over fist. Money that would put casino revenue to shame. With an airfield they could have the worlds largest duty free shops. Think of how much we import from overseas. And not just the 6 Nations, but all Native People. There are too many groups to be operating separately for the same respect. A native passport that is not tribe specific would be a great thing to come out of this mess. One that these boys could have used as well as the people of the Pacific North West or South West. Then collectively invest some of the revenues into recognition by other governments. But I digress...
No this is not the fault of the Lax players. They should be allowed to represent themselves and their nation at the sport they invented. However, their nation needs to be more proactive in asserting its rights if they want to be recognized as more than a group of Americans and Canadians trying to travel internationally with a homemade ID card.