Ireland gives back to the Choctaws for Covid-19 relief fund

Irish donors have been giving to an online fund for Native Americans as a thank you for the relief sent by the Choctaws during the Great Hunger of 1845-47. 

The organisers of an online fundraising campaign raising funds for Navajo and Hopi families say that some “of our recent donations for our GoFundMe campaign have been inspired by the Great Hunger Famine in Ireland which started in 1845”.

In 1847, the Choctaw Native American people sent $170 of relief aid to Ireland, the equivalent of around $5,000 today. At the time the Choctaws had suffered the loss of thousands of their people on the enforced marches forced by the U.S. government in seeking to appropriate Native American lands. Knows as the ‘Trail of Tears’, many died from exposure, starvation and disease.

Many Irish people grew up learning about the sacrifices made by the Choctaws at a time when Irish people too knew desperation and devastating neglect.

“Several of our recent donations for our GoFundMe campaign have been inspired by the Great Hunger Famine in Ireland which started in 1845”, said fund-raising team member Vanessa Tulley.

“173 years later to today, the favour is returned through generous donations from the Irish people to the Navajo Nation during our time of crisis,” she wrote.

“A message from Irish donor, Pat Hayes, sent from Ireland across the ocean: “From Ireland, 170 years later, the favour is returned! To our Native American brothers and sisters in your moment of hardship.”

“The heartache is real. We have lost so many of our sacred Navajo elders and youth to COVID-19. It is truly devastating. And a dark time in history for our Nation. In moments like these, we are so grateful for the love and support we have received from all around the world. Acts of kindness from indigenous ancestors passed being reciprocated nearly 200 years later through blood memory and interconnectedness.”

“Thank you, Ireland, for showing solidarity and being here for us. ”

So far $1.7m of the fund’s $2m target has been raised.

A sculpture called ‘Kindred Spirits’ in Midleton, Co Cork, commemorates the generosity shown by the Choctaw people to Ireland.

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