On paper the affair ended as another Native American loss: The Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team, ranked fourth in the world (SI, July 19), never made it to England for the 2010 World Lacrosse Championships last week due to a passport dispute with both the U.S. and British governments. Since 1985 the Nationals have traveled on self-issued passports. British authorities required that the U.S. guarantee the team's readmittance upon the team's return, but after the State Department issued a one-time waiver, the U.K. changed tack, insisting that it would not accept the Iroquois passports because of "strengthened security measures." "They pulled a bait and switch," Nationals executive director Percy Abrams said, "and they got us."
Yet no one in the Iroquois delegation came close to admitting defeat, because for seven days the issue of the Iroquois and their long-standing claim of sovereignty became a cause célèbre involving photo ops, Hillary Clinton, a slew of grandstanding legislators and a $50,000 donation from director James (King of the World!) Cameron. Abrams says, "You cannot buy that kind of publicity." Even the prospect of sanctions from the Federation of International Lacrosse didn't dampen the feeling that something had been gained from the ordeal. Said midfielder Brett Bucktooth, "It is a win."