The chief of the Native American Choctaw Nation will be in Cork this month for the official dedication of the ‘Kindred Spirits’ sculpture in Midleton which commemorates a donation made by the Choctaw people to Ireland during the Great Famine.
Chief Gary Batton and a delegation of more than 15 representatives from the Choctaw Nation from Oklahoma will attend the public ceremony at 2pm at Bailick Park that will include traditional Choctaw and Irish music and dancing.
'Kindred Spirits’, by Cork based sculptor Alex Pentek, was commissioned in 2013 by the former Midleton Town Council to commemorate the time in 1847, when the kind people of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma heard of the suffering of the starving Irish.
They responded, by contributing a sum of $170 dollars (about $4,400 today), to send food aid to Ireland. This show of solidarity came despite the great hardships being faced by the Choctaw people themselves who were also living in conditions of starvation and poverty, and who had just a few years previous endured the Trail of Tears.
Ahead of their upcoming visit to Ireland, Chief Gary Batton spoke about the connection between his people and the Irish: “Your story is our story. We didn’t have any income. This was money pulled from our pockets. We had gone through the biggest tragedy that we could endure, and saw what was happening in Ireland and just felt compelled to help.