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Canadian Feds Still Holding Iroquois Passport


Why won’t Canada accept the Iroquois passport, when the six-nation Haudenosaunee Confederacy territory straddles the U.S.-Canada border, including two provinces, and predates those boundaries?

It may be because to recognize the passport would be akin to recognizing the sovereignty of the Iroquois, Concordia University professor Gavin Taylor told Canada’s National Post. A professor of Native history at the Montreal institution, Taylor told the National Post that doing so would “raise questions about land rights, citizenship, and a whole host of other issues that generally lie below the surface.”

Taylor, who focuses on treaties and treaty-making, added, “Perhaps the Iroquois passport has less legitimacy than passports from other countries—they don’t have a seat at the United Nations, and in the eyes of a lot Canadians their claim to nationality is a little dubious.”

He called the situation “potentially explosive” for the Canadian government, the National Post said. Canada does not recognize that passport, even though Haudenosaunee Confederacy territories lie within the U.S., Quebec and Ontario.

The U.S. recognizes the Iroquois passport, which is issued by the six-nation government comprising the Mohawk, Seneca, Onondaga, Cayuga, Oneida and Tuscarora.

The issue arose on June 18 when Canadian border officials confiscated the passport of Joyce King, director of the Justice Department for the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, as she tried to enter Canada using that document. Instead of simply asking for another form of identification—her license had expired, which is why she’d gone for the passport in the first place, the next handiest document—they pulled over the car she was in (driven by her sister), brought her into the office and confiscated the passport, calling it a “fantasy document,” King said later.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has refused to comment on privacy grounds, but there is enough of a gray area that on June 15 the agency installed an aboriginal liaison officer in Cornwall, which is where King had tried to cross. The National Post reported that she had "not yet retrieved" her Iroquois passport.