FLAGSTAFF � An American Indian lacrosse team's refusal to travel on passports not issued by the Iroquois confederacy goes to the heart of one of the most sensitive issues in Indian Country � sovereignty.
The rights of Native nations to govern themselves independently has long been recognized by federal treaties, but the extent of that recognition beyond U.S borders is under challenge in a post-Sept. 11 world.
After initially refusing to accept Iroquois-issued passports because the documents lack security features, the State Department gave the team a one-time waiver.
But leaders of the Iroquois Nationals squad announced Saturday that a last-ditch attempt to persuade British officials to recognize their passports had failed, meaning the team wouldn't play in its last scheduled game.
The team has maintained that traveling on anything other than an Iroquois-issued passport would be a strike against the players' identity. But the British government wouldn't budge in denying team members entry into England without U.S. or Canadian passports, keeping the Iroquois Nationals from competing at the World Lacrosse Championships in Manchester in the sport their ancestors helped create.