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NMAI Blog: Choctaw Nation helped Ireland during 1847 famine





"The Choctaw people have a history of helping others. Only sixteen years after their long, sad march along the Trail of Tears, the Choctaws learned of people starving to death in Ireland. With great empathy, in 1847 Choctaw individuals made donations totaling $170—described as the equivalent of more than $5,000 today—to assist the Irish people during the famine. Though they had meager resources, they gave on behalf of others in greater need.

In 1995, Irish President Mary Robinson, later UN Commissioner for Human Rights, visited the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma to thank the Choctaws for their generosity toward the Irish, a people with whom she noted their only link was “a common humanity, a common sense of another people suffering as the Choctaw Nation had suffered when being removed from their tribal land."

President Robinson also acknowledged the many Choctaws who have visited Ireland to take part in commemorating the Famine Walk. “Earlier in the month I met one of the members of the tribe, the artist Gary Whitedeer,” she said. “He explained to me that taking part in that walk and remembering the past between the Choctaw Nation and Irish people and relinking our peoples is completing the circle. I have used that expression recently at a major conference on world hunger in New York. I spoke of the generosity of the Choctaw people and this idea of completing the circle.”"

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Happy St. Patrick's Day from the National Museum of the American Indian: A Gift from the Choctaw Nation (NMAI Blog 3/17)