AKWESASNE - Travelers entering Canada can show several different types of identification to get into the country.
But the Haudenosaunee passport held by many in the Iroquois Confederacy is not among the types of identifications accepted.
Joyce M. King, director of the Akwesasne Justice Department for the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, said she believes that lack of recognition is unfair and disrespectful and wants the policy to change.
Ms. King was traveling with her sister into Cornwall on June 18 when a Canadian border officer asked her for a valid form of identification.
There were issues with her driver's license so she produced the ID next most accessible to her, the Haudenosaunee passport. She said she did not think to present any other form of ID.
"I was more worried about my driver's license being expired than anything else," she said.
When she presented the passport, she ran into trouble. Border officials asked her sister to pull over. They brought Ms. King in for a secondary inspection and confiscated her passport, she said.
Ms. King said she was eventually released into Canada after presenting her tribal Identification and her Indian status card. But she is now without her Haudenosaunee passport, a form of identification that is accepted at the American border.
The passports are issued from the Onondaga Nation in Central New York, the "Central Fire," or capital, of the Iroquois Confederacy, she said.
Canadian border officials called Ms. King's passport a "fantasy document" several times during the line of questioning, she said.
"They can call it whatever they want ... I thought they were trying to irk me into reacting to it," she said. "And I wouldn't react to it. It's a passport, and it identifies who I am."
She said she knew other Akwesasne residents had run into trouble with that passport at the Canadian border in the past, but was not trying to cause trouble that day.
"I was aware they had some difficulties with it," she said. "I didn't think they would confiscate it."
A U.S. passport, birth certificate, permanent resident card, proof of Canadian citizenship, enhanced driver's license or certificate of Indian status are all valid forms of identification at the Canadian border, according to Chris J. Kealey, communications manager for Canada Border Services Agency.
He said he was not sure why the Haudenosaunee passport was not on that list.
"I don't believe it's ever been recognized," he said. "At the moment that's not one of the ones that's recognized as acceptable."
He said he could not comment specifically on the June 18 incident, citing privacy issues. Canadian border officers are allowed to confiscate invalid forms of ID, he said.
"Anything the officers are not clear on or if they suspect it's not an acceptable document ... or they question the authenticity of the document, they can seize it for further investigation," he said. "I don't know what is in it or what may or may not be missing."
Those crossing the border are typically given a chance to present another form of identification if the first one is invalid, he said.
Ms. King said that wasn't the case with her. Border officers requested her sister to pull over without asking for another form of ID, she said.
"It could have been easily resolved if they said 'Do you have any other ID?" she said.
Canada is not alone in not recognizing the passport. Last summer, 23 players on the Iroquois national lacrosse team could not enter England for a championship game because the passport was not recognized there.
Other countries have been more accepting, Ms. King said.
"I've gone to Japan on my passport," she said.
Ms. King said she is trying to raise awareness of Canada's treatment toward Akwesasne residents and other Native Americans. She is currently involved in an effort to get the passport recognized.
"I still believe who we are despite Canada not wanting to believe we're a nation," she said. "We still have treaties. We have our own land."