In 1847, the Choctaw people collected $170 to send to people in Ireland who were starving during the potato famine.
The struggles experienced by the Irish were familiar to the tribal nation: Just 16 years earlier, the Choctaw people had embarked on the Trail of Tears and lost thousands of their own to starvation and disease.
“From Ireland, 170 years later, the favour is returned!” a message from one donor reads. “To our Native American brothers and sisters in your moment of hardship.”
Irish have donated about half a million, organizer says
“Native Americans raised a huge amount in famine relief for Ireland at a time when they had very little,” O’Leary wrote on Saturday. “It’s time for is [sic] to come through for them now.”
Ethel Branch, the fundraiser’s organizer, estimated on Tuesday that Irish people had donated about half a million dollars to the relief efforts so far, which goes toward food, water and other necessary supplies for Navajo and Hopi communities.
The campaign had raised more than $2 million, as of Tuesday evening.
“It’s very unexpected, but it’s just incredible to see the solidarity and to see how much people who are so far away care about our community and have sympathy for what we’re experiencing,” Branch told CNN.
The gift was an act of solidarity
The Choctaw leaders in the crowd had already experienced their own tribulations.
So when the Choctaw heard about the plight of the Irish, they dug into their own pockets, Batton said.
“We felt their pain,” Batton told CNN. “We sensed what they were dealing with.”
Irish and Native American solidarity continues
The act of kindness was never forgotten, and the solidarity between the Irish and Native Americans has continued over the years.
The GoFundMe donations are just the latest example of the longstanding relationship. As one Irish donor on the fundraising page wrote:
“You helped us in our darkest hour. Honoured to return the kindness. Ireland remembers, with thanks.”