'With love from Ireland': Country rallies to assist Native American tribes which helped Ireland in Black '47

'With love from Ireland': Country rallies to assist Native American tribes which helped Ireland in Black '47

Outdoor sculpture, 'Kindred Spirits' which commemorates the 1847 donation by the Native American Choctaw People to Irish famine relief during the Great Hunger, at Bailick Park in Midleton. Picture; David Creedon / Anzenberger

"We stand together, forever and always" - that's the message from Cork man, John Ryan, who donated to an online fundraising campaign set up to assist Native American people struggling with food shortages as a result of Covid-19.

It's one of many messages of hope and encouragement written from people all over the country as Ireland has stepped up and donated to communities in the Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation, whose ancestors helped Ireland during the Great Famine.

Two years into the Great Famine of 1845, death rates as a result of starvation, plague and disease combined with mass emigration lead to the most dramatic population decrease in the entire period of the Famine - a period which became known as Black '47.

During this difficult time, the Choctaw Nation provided $170 of relief aid to the Irish to help them - the equivalent of over €4,500 today.

"Not long before the Great Hunger Famine in Ireland, 60,000 Native Americans, including the Choctaw people, had suffered through the experience of the Trail of Tears. 

"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," one of the fundraisers, Vanessa Tulley explained.

Expressing her sincere gratitude toward Irish people who have donated to the fundraiser, which will supply families with food, water and other essential supplies, Ms Tulley said Ireland has provided hope during an incredibly dark time. 

"We are so grateful for the love and support we have received from all around the world. 

"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 Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation are extreme food deserts with only 13 grocery stores on Navajo to serve some 180,000 people and only three small grocery marts on Hopi to serve some 3,000 people. 

These communities also have high numbers of elderly, diabetic, asthmatic, and cancer-afflicted individuals, who are particularly at risk of contracting Covid-19.

Thanks to the GoFundMe campaign, people all around the world have managed to raise close to $2m for vital supplies.

In a message of support, Cork resident, Geraldine D'Arcy wished the community strength to get through this challenging time. 

"I am from Cork in Ireland. I donated in solidarity with the American Native Community during this crisis," she said.

"Bless you and I wish you the strength to get through this terrible time for your community."

If you could like to donate to the fundraiser visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/NHFC19Relief

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