The Haudenosaunee Confederacy was formed by our Peacemaker over 1000 years ago, according to our Gayanashagowa, or Great Law of Peace; and it is the oldest continuous democratic government in North America. Our system of confederated government was acknowledged as the model for your government by the United States Congress in 1987.
The Haudenosaunee have been traveling on our own passports for over 30 years and they have been accepted into dozens of countries. There has never been a security issue raised during this extensive travel history. Our Nationals lacrosse team has traveled to Japan, Australia and other countries on Haudenosaunee passports in the past. Haudenosaunee citizens and leaders have traveled extensively this year on our passports. We do not have a satisfactory explanation as to why policy has abruptly been changed.
The Haudenosaunee hold some of the earliest Treaties made by the US government: the 1784 Treaty of Fort Stanwix, the 1789 Treaty of Harmor and the historic 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua. These Treaties were made in the spirit of our first treaty with the European settlers: the Guswenta, or Two Row Wampum, an agreement of mutual respect and non-interference we made with the Dutch in 1613, as they first entered our territory.
The Treaty of Canandaigua is still acknowledged and celebrated every year on its anniversary, November 11th, by the respective governments. As recently as February of this year, the United State Department of Justice re-affirmed the continued validity of the Treaty of Canandaigua in an Amicus brief it filed in New York State Court of Appeals, in support of the Cayuga Nation, by positively reaffirming that the Treaty is still valid and that the Cayuga Nation reservation recognized in the Treaty has not been disestablished.
These treaties are between sovereigns: the United States as one party and the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee as the other party. These treaties are clear evidence that we are a separate sovereign and that our citizens are not US citizens, despite the unilateral attempt by the US in 1924 with its Citizenship Act. The Haudenosaunee sent a clear letter to the President of the US in 1924 stating that we were not willing to relinquish our citizenship.
Further, our right to pass over the US/Canadian border freely is protected by Article III of the 1794 Jay Treaty, which guaranteed “Indians dwelling on either side” of the international boundary the right “freely to pass and repass by land or inland navigation” into either Canada or the United States. (8 Stat. 116.)
For many years, Haudenosaunee citizens have traveled using our own passports and identification cards. In our view, the term “freely” in the Jay Treaty means that burdensome documentation requirements cannot be lawfully imposed without our consent. Our right to carry our own documentation is a part of our right to self determination. In recent years, we have worked hard to ensure that the federal government continues to respect our right to carry our own documentation.
Nya wenha and dawnaytoh,
Faithkeeper, Turtle Clan