An American Indian lacrosse team will miss a world championship match in England after British government officials said Wednesday the team must have American or Canadian passports to travel.
The decision comes after the Iroquois National Lacrosse Team had sought to travel on passports issued by the Iroquois Confederacy.
Tonya Gonnella Frichner, a member of the Onondaga Nation who works with the team, told The Associated Press that British officials had said members would have to use American or Canadian passports to travel to Britain.
In an indication of a possible trans-Atlantic bureaucratic mix-up, that decision was announced just hours after the United States cleared the team for travel on a one-time waiver at the behest of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. A State Department official said earlier Clinton had taken an interest in the case.
On Tuesday, as part of an unscheduled New York stopover while it awaited clearance to travel, the team practiced at Centre Island Beach Village Park lacrosse field in the Town of Oyster Bay. The Oak Neck Athletic Council, which manages the lacrosse field, sprung into action to accommodate the team.
"This was a unique opportunity to watch players of this caliber," said council president Al Staab. The council provided refreshments to the team, and brought nearly 100 people to watch the practice and support the team, said Bob Quinn, a board member.
A sign strung up at the entrance to the park Tuesday read, "Welcome Iroquois National Lacrosse Team." The sport originated with American Indian players and has a long history on Long Island, Staab said, adding the council had been happy to assist the Iroquois team.
Staab said he sympathized with the team's plight. "They could have gotten American passports, but they wanted to maintain their identities," he said.
U.S. officials earlier informed the team that new security rules for international travel meant team members' old passports - low-tech, partly handwritten documents issued by the Iroquois Confederacy of six Indian nations - wouldn't be honored. The team had to get a flight in time to make Thursday's evening championship game.
With Zeke Miller