A New York congresswoman said Wednesday the State Department has cleared the way for the Iroquois Confederacy Lacrosse team to travel for a championship tournament in Manchester, England
, using passports issued by the Indian nation, rather than higher security U.S. documents.
The decision, announced by Rep. Louise Slaughter
, (D-N.Y.), came in the nick of time as championship play begins Thursday night and the 23-member team was still stranded in New York City Wednesday morning. Slaughter said she telephoned Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
, who helped resolve the issue. "I am relieved that this bureaucratic technicality has been papered over and these young men can go and do what they have trained to do: play lacrosse and compete on the international
scene," Slaughter said. "Lacrosse is an integral part of the Native American culture
and this team deserves the opportunity to travel and play on their terms."
The Iroquois have traveled in the past using tribal passports, but they were blocked from leaving New York earlier this week because their documents were not accepted. The 2009 Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
tightened security on travel, requiring Americans who go abroad to carry U.S. passports or comparable high tech documents such as the new limited-use U.S. Passport Card or an Enhanced Driver's License, even when traveling between the U.S. and Canada. Slaughter said the State Department would get a list of all of the lacrosse players heading for England and their passport numbers. The team still needed British visas for the trip.
The Iroquois Confederacy is comprised of six Indian nations, stretching from upstate New York to Ontario, Canada. Indians living in North America are generally credited with inventing lacrosse
more than 200 years ago. The fast-moving stick and ball game is growing in popularity among men and woman athletes in the United States and Canada.