Irish donate to Native American tribes hit by Covid-19 to repay 173-year-old favour

Irish donate to Native American tribes hit by Covid-19 to repay 173-year-old favour

IN 1847, Ireland was gripped by 'the great hunger', and Native Americans were struggling to rebuild their lives after suffering through the Trail of Tears.

Famously, despite their own suffering, the Choctaw Nation tribe raised and sent $170 (an estimated $5,000 today) to Ireland for relief aid, and a monument was erected in County Cork decades later as a mark of respect, gratitude and solidarity.

The Kindred Spirits monument in Midleton, Co Cork (Photo: Gavin Sheridan)

In 2020, with the world suffering from the spread of Covid-19, Native American tribes are some of the most at-risk from the virus, and a GoFund me was set up to issue relief to some of the most vulnerable nations.

The Navajo Nation and Hopi reservation are "extreme food deserts" with a third of people not having access to running water and with high numbers of at-risk residents.

A relief fund was set up by local volunteers to help supply food, PPE and other essential items, and countless Irish people have donated with messages of support and thanks, saying they wish to repay the 173-year-old favour.

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

The organisers of the fund have now thanked Irish people for their donations, with Vanessa Tulley writing on the GoFundMe page:

"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."

The Choctaw people lived in what is now present-day Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida

Ms Tulley explained the connection between the old Irish and Native American nations, writing:

"The death of many people on the Trail of Tears sparked empathy for the Irish people in their time of need. Thus, the Choctaw extended $170 of relief aid."

"173 years later to today, the favor is returned through generous donations from the Irish people to the Navajo Nation during our time of crisis."

"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. "

Volunteers from the relief fund prepare to supply at-risk communities with food and supplies (GoFundMe)

Irish names offering donations continue to flood into the fundraiser, offering support, gratitude and solidarity.

Orlaith Gallagher wrote "Ireland is grateful", while Shane Kennedy offered the words: "We in Ireland will never forget the wonderful act of solidarity and compassion shown by the Choctaw people during the Irish famine.

"We are with you during your fight against Covid 19."

To read more about the relief fund, or to offer a donation, you can visit the GoFundMe page here.