Photo: Yulia Plekhanova/Shutterstock

Thankful Irish Give Back to the Native American Communities That Helped During the Famine

by Eben Diskin May 5, 2020

When providing help to those in need, you don’t expect anything in return, especially more than 170 years after the fact. But the Irish have never forgotten what the Choctaw Nation did for them so many years ago.

Back in 1847, the Choctaw Nation was in the process of establishing itself in Oklahoma, after being driven out of its ancestral lands in Mississippi in what is known as the Trail of Tears. Even considering their own loss and difficulties, when the Choctaw people heard about the Great Famine in Ireland, which killed one million people, they donated $170 to the struggling Irish people — which in today’s terms, equals about $5,000.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation have found themselves at risk. They lack access to clean water and are located in extreme food deserts, making it extremely difficult for them to obtain essentials. The communities also include many elderly people, as well as people with conditions that make them vulnerable to the virus. During the intensifying stages of the pandemic, the Navajo and Hopi families set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the communities and the money poured in from an unlikely place: Ireland.

Messages that accompany the donations convey the gratitude of the Irish toward the Native American communities. “What comes around goes around. With thanks from Ireland,” said one donor. “My ancestors may have starved without the help of the Choctaw people. Thank you,” said another one.

Over $1.8 million has already poured in, much of it from Irish donors.

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