Haudenosaunee Use Own Passports, Stand Proud to Represent Nation at World Cup


Kathy Smith, chair of the Haudenosaunee women’s lacrosse board, played an integral role in getting passports approved for 2017 Haudenosaunee World Cup team to travel to the United Kingdom, including her daughter, Katie (center).

Playing for one’s nation fosters a pride that is indescribable to many.

But for the Haudenosaunee women’s national team, which opened the FIL Women’s World Cup with a 4-0 record before dropping its first game against New Zealand on Tuesday, simply being in Guildford, England, is more valuable than the wins themselves.

They flew here into the United Kingdom using their Haudenosaunee passports.

“That in itself was one of our goals,” said Tia Schindler, the team’s manager. “All we want is to be recognized for who we are and being here and being able to do that is a really great achievement and a proud moment for us.”

In 2010, the Iroquois Nationals withdrew from the 2010 FIL World Championship in Manchester, England, because their nation’s passports would not be recognized, even though they have used them since 1977.

Again, in 2015, the Haudenosaunee under-19 women’s national team ran into the same issue and had to also pull out of the FIL U19 Women’s World Championship in Edinburgh, Scotland, because Haudenosaunee passports were considered “fantasy passports” to the European Union.

It was a struggle that left many Haudenosaunee women unsure of their future playing lacrosse for the nation. Alie Jimerson, former Albany attacker and former captain of the 2015 squad, was one of those individuals.

Jimerson first set her eyes on following in the footsteps of the Thompson brothers at Albany and on the international stage to prove that “we, Native America girls, can go far.”

But soon after her U19 team withdrew, she transferred to Syracuse to play under all-time great at Syracuse and for Canada, Gary Gait, and then made Team Canada’s 25-player training roster following the Team USA Fall Classic last October.

"I wasn’t going to wait around and get told I couldn’t play in a World Cup again,” Jimerson told Excelle Sports in the December of 2016. “This decision was not easy for me because once I transfer over to another country, it’s binding, meaning I can never go back and play with Haudenosaunee again, even if I do get cut, which is upsetting. I made this decision because I love lacrosse and I just want to be able to play at one of the highest levels possible and have a chance at a gold medal.”

Jimerson’s younger sister, Jalyn, currently dons the purple and white for the Haudenosaunee at Surrey Sports Park, while Jimerson sports red for Canada. Schindler, who was also a manager for the U19 women’s team, still supports Alie Jimerson, but understands that “life is about tough decisions.”

Though despite some uncertainty, several of Alie Jimerson’s teammates returned to play this summer, including fellow U19 captain Dana Issacs, as well as midfielders Jadyn Bomberry, Jaceln Lazore and Victoria Thompson.

“A lot of our players especially from our U19 team were kind of hesitant to come back, so we are very grateful for the players who did come back, stuck with the program and believed in us,” Schindler said.

Kathy Smith, chair of the Haudenosaunee women’s lacrosse board, played an integral role in getting their passports recognized this year. She remained resolute in her goal and was successful.

“If we get Canadian and American passports, we’re basically agreeing to be Canadian or American citizens. And by doing that, we are undermining our treaties that we have with those governments,” Kathy Smith, chair of the Haudenosaunee women’s lacrosse board, said in a July 2015 interview with Lacrosse Magazine. “We can’t have treaties with ourselves.”

Smith’s daughter, Katie, currently plays for this year’s Haudenosaunee World Cup team, and at age 31, with four kids, Schindler said she embodies what it means to play for their nation.

“Katie is a pure role model and a leader on our team,” Schindler said. “We would never know she had four kids the way that she runs. She’s just been so determined and connected to the game, so it’s been totally awesome.”

While Schindler attributed the loss to New Zealand as a result of the limited time they had together as a team, due to the undisclosed long process of getting their passports recognized, they are now simply focused on finishing the tournament strong.

Lacrosse is woven into their everyday life, and to simply experience this event has been worthwhile, she said.

“Lacrosse is life,” said Schindler, who married her husband Gewas at the Hawaiian lacrosse tournament because there was never time outside of lacrosse. “Growing up on a reservation, it’s just a big part of who we are. It’s a part of the culture.”

“We’re super happy to be able to be here and represent the Haudenosaunee nation.”

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