Those of us of Irish ancestry grew up with our elders reminding us of how the Irish suffered so badly after the potato famine in the 19thCentury. At the time that 1 million people died of starvation the English were exporting food from Ireland. (Imagine of the current population of NZ 1 ½ million people dying. That would now be seen as genocide.) 1 million more left. Some of the leavers were my ancestors. The last of my tupuna to arrive here was my grandfather Patrick Nihill who arrived in New Zealand at the start of the 20thCentury, with his two brothers Con and Joe.
My other grandfather, Patrick Moore, was the 12th of 12 children born up the Arahura Valley. His parents, my great grandparents, met on the boat on the way out from Ireland. These people were staunch about resisting prejudice and never forgetting why they, or their parents, had to leave the land of their birth.
That’s why the Irish never forgets those who assisted them in their hour of need.
In the New York Times last week there was the story of an indigenous tribe in USA who were poor and yet they sent funds they didn’t have to the starving Irish. Here’s a bit of that story:
In 1847 the Choctaw people sent $170 to help during the potato famine. Irish donors are citing that gesture as they help two tribes during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now hundreds of Irish people are repaying that old kindness, giving to a charity drive for two Native American tribes suffering in the Covid-19 pandemic. As of Tuesday, the fund-raiser has raised more than $1.8 million to help supply clean water, food and health supplies to people in the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Reservation, with hundreds of thousands of dollars coming from Irish donors, according to the organizers.
Many donors cited the generosity of the Choctaws, noting that the gift came not long after the United States government forcibly relocated the tribe and several other American Indian groups from the Southeastern United States, a march across thousands of miles known as the Trail of Tears that left thousands of people dead along the way.
“I’d already known what the Choctaw did in the famine, so short a time after they’d been through the Trail of Tears,” Sean Callahan, 43, an Apple administrator in Cork City who made a donation, said on Tuesday. “It always struck me for its kindness and generosity and I see that too in the Irish people. It seemed the right time to try and pay it back in kind.”
On Sunday the organizers wrote in praise of “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,” one said on the GoFundMe page.
Gary Batton, chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, said in a statement on Tuesday that the tribe was “gratified — and perhaps not at all surprised — to learn of the assistance our special friends, the Irish, are giving to the Navajo and Hopi Nations.”
“We have become kindred spirits with the Irish in the years since the Irish potato famine,” he said. “We hope the Irish, Navajo and Hopi peoples develop lasting friendships, as we have.” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/05/world/coronavirus-ireland-native-american-tribes.html
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