Taoiseach to thank Choctaw Native Americans for Famine aid as part of St Patrick’s trip
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Taoiseach to thank Choctaw Native Americans for Famine aid as part of St Patrick’s trip

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar is to meet with Choctaw Native Americans during his St Patrick’s trip to the United States.

The Taoiseach will thank them for the succour their ancestors provided to Ireland during the Great Famine.

In 1847, the Choctaw collected $170 to donate to Ireland, which was in the grip of a disaster that claimed 1million lives and forced a similar number to emigrate.

The sum, which equates to several thousand dollars today, was collected at a time when the Choctaw themselves were struggling.

Blighted by starvation, cholera and blizzards, around 2,500 Choctaw died during the Trail of Tears, when they were forced to relocate from the Deep South to what is now Oklahoma.

The Taoiseach will meet with Choctaw chief Gary Batton next Monday to thank him for his ancestors’ generosity.

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He will also make a presentation to the Choctaw people.

The Taoiseach said: “Even though some of the people who took their lands were Irish, the Choctaw understood our pain and felt kinship with us, because they had experienced it themselves.

“This is one of the oldest connections we have with America, and it’s a kinship I wish to renew through my visit.”

Last year, Chief Batton was in Cork for the unveiling of a statue commemorating the 1847 donation.