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Iroquois lacrosse team back home

The Iroquois lacrosse team has returned home after a week long passport dispute with the United Kingdom.

The team was hoping to play in the World Lacrosse Championships in Manchester, England.

Officials in England ruled, again, Saturday the team would not be allowed in the country with Iroquois-issued passports because they lacked certain security features.

The United States, however, granted the team a one-time waiver to travel earlier in the week.

Despite already forfeiting two games at the World Lacrosse Championships in Manchester, England, the Iroquois lacrosse team says it has not withdrawn from the tournament.

At this point, Executive Director Percy Abrams says this is a matter of principal.

Players and coaches have said all along that accepting US or Canadian passports would be an attack on their identity.

Here is a statement from the team:

We have been informed that the United Kingdom will not permit the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team to travel to England for the 2010 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championships, already under way in Manchester.

While we are deeply disappointed we could not bring our talented team to the world championships, there simply was no way we could accede to the recommendation that we accept either American or Canadian passports to travel. The Haudenosaunee passports we travel on " like the game of lacrosse itself which our ancestors invented " are essential to our identity as a sovereign people making our way in the world community.

We are grateful to the United States and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the cooperative and respectful talks that led to their agreement to let us travel in and out of the United States on our passports for this event. We are disappointed the United Kingdom could not see its way clear to join the United States in this gesture of respect.

But let it be known that we did not withdraw from the tournament, and believe we won without ever playing by demonstrating to the world the continuing relevance of indigenous sovereignty in the 21st century. And we salute our team, who endured this struggle with dignity and the understanding that they were standing up for something that will benefit seven generations into the future, as true representations of the living Iroquois spirit.

We continue to work to upgrade our documentation to a level of security consistent with the requirements of an increasingly security-conscious world. Though we are unable to travel to the United Kingdom to participate in the world lacrosse championships, the team and the Haudenosaunee nations will continue to pursue solutions so that we may continue with our global development in many respects.

The FIL World Indoor Box Lacrosse Championships are scheduled for the Czech Republic in 2011, and we stand second in the world in that competition. The Under-19 Men TMs Field Lacrosse Championships are scheduled for Finland in 2012, and we intend to be there as well, as we hold the bronze medal in the 2008 games.

Joagquisho - Oren R. Lyons

Honorary Chairman

Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse

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