Irish people are coming out in droves to repay the favor extended by the Choctaw Nation to Ireland during the 1847 Great Hunger
A GoFundMe for Navajo & Hopi families has secured more than $2.6 million (and steadily growing) in donations, thanks in large part to Irish and Irish Americans hoping to return the kind gesture that the Choctaw Nation extended to Ireland during The Great Hunger.
Launched in March as the coronavirus crisis began to take hold, the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund aims to provide "access to the food and water and other essential items they will need to weather this pandemic, such as food, PPE, and diapers."
"The need is so great," organizers wrote, adding that donations will be distributed through the Rural Utah Project Education Fund.
According to Navajo Times, as of May 5, there are 2,559 positive COVID-19 cases on the Navajo Nation, about 1.5 percent of the population. The number of deaths has risen to 79 since May 4. The Hopi Health Care Center, which also serves nearby Navajo communities, had 51 cases and no deaths.
Irish people have now come out in droves to support the fund as a way of paying back the favor extended to Ireland during the Great Famine when the Choctaw Nation donated $170 (about $5,000 today) to the Irish.
At the time, around 60,000 Native Americans, including the Choctaw people, had just suffered through the Trail of Tears which made them empathetic to Irish people suffering the worst effects of the Famine. The Choctaw, who had just relocated to Oklahoma from their ancestral home in Mississippi, dug deep for people thousands of miles away who they had never heard of.
Now, Irish people are repaying the favor and sending heartwarming messages of strength, solidarity, and hope with the Native American community as it battles through the coronavirus crisis.
The following is a small selection of the donations and messages that were all shared within just an hour of each other on May 6:
"Here's the €140 I won in the poker last weekend. Thank the Choctaw for helping the Irish even though they'd just finished the Trail of Tears. Also the lad's crappy poker play I suppose. Slán." - Peter Morgan
"My great-grandmother never told her family [us] she was Irish because it was shameful at the time in America. She would not be ashamed of her country or to claim it's title now. The tribes in New Mexico adopted my grandfather as one of their own. America has failed all it's people, some more than others. Never give up, never surrender; even when the fight feels futile." - Kaela Passarelli
"Ní dhéanfaimid dearmad go deo" - Sean Carroll
"Ní neart go cur le chéile. From all the McDonagh family in Ireland." - Barry McDonagh
"From Ireland, in solidarity with the Navajo Nation in a time of need." - Ronan Buckley
"To the Choctaw Nation, remembering you in your time of need, as you remembered Ireland in our time of need." - Jim Dunne
"Your ancestors helped our ancestors in their time of need, it feels good to be able to reciprocate even in this small way. Thank you and we wish you well." - Dermot Brennan
"As an expatriate Irish man now living in the US I have great respect and admiration for the Native American Nations and all that they have been through.I hope their amazing act of generosity to us will be highly rewarded." - Eugene Griffin
"On behalf of the Irish people your ancestors showed such kindness and generosity to, I am happy to contribute." - Suzanne Cahill
"I donated because only a few years after the Trail of Tears, Native Americans, the Choctaw tribe, gave more than they could afford to help the starving people of my native Ireland during the Great Famine. I want to try to return even a small amount of this kindness to help in the Navajo and Hopi’s time of need. Ni neart go cur le cheile - with unity comes strength." - Paula Fitzell
"I donated because my father immigrated to Canada from Ireland. The Irish remember." - Aeneas Lane
"The native american people have always had a special place in our heart. Like Ireland of old they were deceived, lied too and treated as second class citizens, but always kept their dignity, honor and self respect. Thank you for your kindness to my people in 1847. Stay safe and may the God who made the earth look down on you and protect you..slan agus beannacht" - Kenneth Blowers
"Ireland Remembers. Ní neart go cur le chéile." - Leanne Peacock
"Wishing you and your people good health. 1847, One good deed leads to another, thank you." - Luke Kiernan
"Ireland and the Irish remember the generosity of the Choctaw First Nation People." - Peter Cooney
"One good deed deserves another, love from the grateful Irish!" - Patrick O'Leary
"Le grá ó Ghael-Mheiriceánach. With love from an American of Irish heritage. Beirigí bua agus beannacht!" - Caoimhín Mac Con Raoi
"I come from Cork, Ireland, which was devastated by the Famine in 1845-1849. We were often told about the Choctaw, who were some of the only ones who, showing their true humanity, tried to help us in some way. We will never forget that; and we will never forget them in time of need." - Mark Griffin
"We remember the kindness of your ancestors when our Irish ancestors needed help. Thank you. Stay strong.... it is not they who can inflict most but they who can suffer most – who will conquer. Every Good Wish from Betty and John in Ireland." - Betty & John Wade
"On behalf of my great great grandmother, a famine survivor." - Lucinda Shannon
"170 years ago the only friend we had were the Choctaw Nation. Time to return the favour." - Paul Cosgrove
"The Irish have long memories. We remember the kindness your people showed us during our Great Famine. Thank you." - Paul & Terry English
"I am not Irish but I live in Ireland. The story of the Choctaw tribe's generosity and this story playing out now is incredibly moving. All the best with the support for the Navajo and Hopi families." - Robert Knox-Davies
"From Bray of Herford and Ballyshannon McLaughlins who departed for the new world 1848 to help build U.S/Can. Much love to the your Navajo & Hopi Families." - Rachel Mya Bray
"From an Irishman in grateful appreciation of the generosity of your forefathers towards mine.. keep safe..." - Frank Monaghan
"Your ancestors were there for us, we're here for you. Your generosity is not forgotten. Thank you from Cork, Ireland." - Bernadette Murphy
"Ireland will never forget its friends." - John Lavery
"This nation contributed to my ancestors at a time when they were starving. The Irish nation will forever be grateful." - Liam O’Mahony
"I remember reading about the support given by the Choctaw during the Irish famine years ago. It seems perfectly fitting to return the favour. A belated thank you from Co. Cork, Ireland." - Finbarr O'Regan
"Solidarity from Ireland. We never forget those who've helped us as a nation in the past." - Gary O Mahony
"Who knows if I would even be alive to send this were it not for the help your ancestors sent to mine so many years ago. I can only hope that one day in the far future there will be someone like me, grateful and honored, to look back in awe at the way humans from another generation were able to help them get to where they are today. Iyyikowa." - Michael McGrath
"The generosity of Native Americans to the people of Ireland in 1847 has not been forgotten. Sending the Navajo and Hopi families every warm wish from across the Atlantic Ocean." - David Tobin
"In memory of my Irish grandparents John Mannion and Annie Devlin, and my ancestors who survived the Great Hunger. Thanks to the Native Americans who helped them, Bless then all." - Mary Anne Cohen
"My Irish antecedents suffered during An Gorta Mór and the Choctaw people were there to help at that time. Never forgotten." - Angus MacIsaac
"I am so truly touched to have only heard yesterday of the kindness extended to the Irish people during the Great Famine. When others turned their backs on us your people faced our pain with us .... giving us hope and my four children a future. Thank you The Jordan Family xxxx xx" - Ingrid Jordan
"Is cúis mórtais domsa cabhrú libh. Ní dhéanfaimid dearmad go deo ar chónas ar chabhraigh na Céad Náisiún linn in am an ghátair. It is my great honour to help you. We will never forget how the First Nations help us in our hour of need." - Denise Ní Fhiaich