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New passport requirement for U.S. air travel 'irritates' Mohawks
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 23, 2007 | 1:16 PM ET
Members of the Mohawk nation are angry about U.S. travel rules that require Canadians to carry passports for flights south of the border, and say they should be exempt from the rule that took effect Tuesday.
Mohawks have been guaranteed unfettered travel over the U.S. border since 1794, when the Jay Treaty, or Treaty of London, was signed between the United States and Great Britain.
Today, the Mohawk nation spans Quebec, Ontario and New York, and members are used to moving back and forth with only their status cards or driver's licences, whether travelling by boat, car or plane, said Kenneth Deer, editor of the Eastern Door, a Kahnawake newspaper.
"Traditionally we've been able to have free access to our homeland. The Canadian-U.S. border is a recent development in our history."
Being forced to carry a Canadian passport is a major "irritant" for Mohawks, Deer told CBC.
"We are a nation of people who have been here from time immemorial. The Canadian passport says you declare yourself a Canadian citizen. There is nothing wrong with that, but Mohawks prefer to be Mohawks," he said, adding that he only holds a passport issued by the Six Nations Confederacy.
For the moment, passports are only required for air travel to the U.S., but the Department of Homeland Security plans to extend the requirement to land and sea travel by 2008-09.
Mohawks hope to develop their own identity card in conjunction with Homeland Security officials before that time, Deer said.
The NEXUS Air frequent traveller program, which allows frequent border crossers to pay for pre-screening and security clearance, is not an appropriate solution for Mohawks, he added.
For the moment, Mohawks travelling by air will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis at the border, said Mike Milne, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
"If he went in, and was able to identify himself, and was not on any kind of watch list, he would be admitted with the caveat that the next time you come back, you have a passport," Milne told CBC.
He added that his department is reviewing concerns presented by "different" groups of people who may not have Canadian passports.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, 87 million people cross the U.S. border by air every year, and 309 million make the trip by land.
The "Creator" and the "Peacemaker" gave these rights to our "Ancestors" as everything in our lives have been in cycles, we can not take advantage of we have been given for our lives as these passports are for the "Haundenosaunee" and not for "immigrantes" as we are the "legal, stewarts of the land, and our rights have already been violated so many times over the years. As these passports are not to be given to just anyone, because the person that is identified on the card itself,
could be using it for not paying taxes, education, medical, drug trafficing, they could also be claiming grants under this document. It really isn't good for anyone to be giving out these documents to just anyone, they are for the "Haundenosaunee" only!!