Five years ago we wrote a post that told of the history of the Choctaw Donation to help the people of Ireland during the Great Famine.
It’s an incredible story of empathy, generosity and human spirit during a time of suffering for two nations. In 1847 the Choctaw nation raised the sum of $170 to help a suffering people on the other side of the world. That’s equivalent to $5,000 today.
It might not sound a huge sum but the circumstances in which it was raised are astonishing and humbling.
Sixteen years previously the same Choctaw Nation had been forced on the Trail Of Tears to vacate their ancestral homeland and walk through the depths of winter to another part of America. It’s estimated that 20%-25% of the men, women and children died during that march.
But, just 6 years later, the remaining 20,000 people heard of the Irish Famine. Recognising the suffering they themselves had suffered at the hands of colonisers just 16 years earlier they took up a collection.
And despite their extreme poverty they raised that desperate $170 which they dutifully sent to Ireland. It was an act of such humanity that it has never been forgotten in Ireland.
It is marked by a unique sculpture in Midleton, Co. Cork
Repaying The Debt
In 2020 the Navajo and Hopi nations, already suffering extreme poverty started suffering extra hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to alleviate this they opened a fundraising page requesting donations.
A few days later the organiser said they saw large numbers of Irish names amongst the donations. But they couldn’t understand why.
One of the organisers, Cassandra Beagy spoke to The Irish Times about it…
“We noticed that we were getting a lot of donations from Ireland so we were wondering why . . . sorry I get emotional talking about this part,” Ms Begay broke off. “And I learned about what the Choctaw did for the Irish people, and it was so beautiful.”
At the time of writing the fundraiser has raised over $2,000,000.
It’s an incredible story. One of suffering, humanity, generosity and memory. The GofundMe page is still open and accepting donations.