MARCH 23, 1847


When Choctaw newspapers informed their readers of the Irish Potato Famine, many Choctaw reportedly cried. An advertisement solicited donations from the Choctaw despite the Nation having just suffered 2 harsh winters & a cholera epidemic. Moreover, the Choctaw were but 15 years removed from the “Trail of Tears” (the Choctaw lost at least 10% of their members) and an epidemic following the 1833 Arkansas River flooding. On March 23, 1847, the Choctaw Treasurer sent $170 to the Irish relief effort in New York.  In 1995, the Irish began an ongoing reciprocal exchange with the Choctaw Nation.  June 18, 2007, the Choctaw Nation was honored at dedication of sculptor Alex Pentek’s “Kindred Spirit” in Midleton, in County Cork.  Its 9 20’-tall stainless-steel feathers are formed in the shape of a bowl. In 2019, the 1st Choctaw Ireland Scholarship recipient began her studies in Ireland and, in 2020, the Irish paid-forward the Choctaw Gift donating aid to the Navajo & Hopi during the coronavirus pandemic.

Leann Howe & Padraig Kirwan, eds., “Famine Pots: The Choctaw-Irish Gift Exchange, 1847-Present,” Michigan State University Press, 2020.
“Choctaw and Irish History,” Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.  Retrieved 9/11/2022, Choctaw and Irish History - Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
Photo: Gavin Sheridan, 9/18/2016.  “Kindred Spirits” sculpture by Alex Pentek.  Permissive Use. 

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