Choctaw Nation leader hopes to travel to Ireland for monument

An eagle feather being sculpted for the monument in Ireland. Photo from Alex Pentek

Chief Gary Batton of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma hopes to travel to Ireland in May to help dedicate a monument that honors his people's generosity.

In 1847, tribal members donated $170 to assist the Irish people during a historic time of hardship. The generosity came even though the tribe had just endured a forced move to Oklahoma.

“We didn’t have any income,” Batton told The Oklahoman. “This was money pulled from our pockets. We just went through the biggest tragedy that we could endure, and they saw what was happening in Ireland and just felt compelled to help.”

Artist's rendering of the Kindred Spirits sculpture. Image from Alex Pentek

The Kindred Spirits monument will honor that contribution. The sculpture by Alex Pentek features nine stainless steel eagle feathers that will be placed in the shape of a bowl.

"By creating an empty bowl symbolic of the Great Irish Famine formed from the seemingly fragile and rounded shaped eagle feathers used in Choctaw ceremonial dress, it is my aim to communicate the tenderness and warmth of the Choctaw Nation who provided food to the hungry when they themselves were still recovering from their own tragic recent past," Pentek says on his website.

The monument will be unveiled in late May.

Get the Story:
Ireland recognizes gift from Choctaw Nation during potato famine (The Oklahoman 3/23)

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