June 30th, 2011
The U.S.–Canada border slices right through Mohawk ancestral lands but Joyce King, director of the Justice Department for the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, almost couldn’t make it into Canada on June 18.
A Canadian border official not only made her show other i.d.—tribal identification and Indian status cards did the trick and got her into Canada—but also seized her Haudenosaunee passport, which is accepted at the U.S. border, according to a newspaper report.
The Iroquois Confederacy–issued passport has caused problems in the past, to others, she said, but it does not normally get confiscated. In King’s case, she told the Courier-Observer, Canadian border officials called the passport a “fantasy document” as they questioned her. King is working to change that perception and get the Haudenosaunee passport recognized. Although she has gone to Japan on that passport, others have also run into trouble with it.
Most notoriously, the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse team, ranked fourth worldwide, missed competing in the World Lacrosse Championships in England last year because both the U.S. State Department and the British Consulate refused to recognize the team’s Haudenosaunee passports, even though they’d been using them to travel for decades.