September 8th, 2011
Indian Country Today reports that a Canadian border agent confiscated a Haudenosaunee passport and called it a ‘Fantasy Document.’
A Mohawk woman is preparing a complaint against the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) due to a recent incident in which her Haudenosaunee passport was seized by a border official. Joyce King, a citizen of the U.S. federally acknowledged St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, says she plans to file a complaint against the agency for discriminatory actions.
Her passport was seized on June 18 as King was travelling from Akwesasne Territory in New York to Cornwall, Ontario. King, the director of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne’s Justice Department, said the border agent asked for identification and when she handed him her Haudenosaunee passport, she was told to get out of the car for a “secondary inspection.” The border agent returned and asked her to present her identification and when she once again showed her passport the agent confiscated it,.
The agent gave her a receipt for her passport and a copy of the Customs Act, which lists 71 “fantasy passports” that include the Iroquois, Haudenosaunee, and Anishinabek indigenous nations; countries that no longer exist under their former names, such as “Czechoslovakia”; decolonized countries, such as British Honduras; and some unexplained entries, such as Wisconsin and Principality of Vikingland.
King was allowed to enter Canada only after she presented her tribal status card issued by St. Regis Mohawk Tribe and her Canadian Indian Status card. “Status Indians” are Indigenous Peoples who are listed in Canada’s Indian Register under Canada’s Indian Act of 1876.
King has frequently used her Haudenosaunee passport to travel to the United States, Mexico, and Japan, for example.
The Haudenosaunee passports have become problematic in the past few years under the U.S.-imposed Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which requires documents to have an “enhanced” security feature—an embedded microchip that has a distinct number. The Haudenosaunee passport was in the spotlight last year when the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team was prevented from travelling to England for the 2010 World Lacrosse Championships by the British Consulate and the U.S. State Department. The State Department finally relented and agreed to allow the team to travel on their Haudenosaunee passports on a onetime-only waiver, but by then it was too late to go.