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The historic reason the Irish are donating to Native Americans badly hit by COVID-19



Cerith Gardiner - published on 05/07/20

An act of kindness is remembered 173 years later.

During the coronavirus pandemic, members of the Navajo nation have been some of the hardest hit by this particular virus, as reported in Time Magazine. A recent GoFundMe fundraiser to help the many suffering Native Americans has seen some donations from a surprising source that has caused its original target of $1.5 million to rise to over $2 million — the people of Ireland.

On the Navajo & Hopi Families Covid-19 Relief Fund page, the organizers not only share what they are doing with all the funds raised, but why they’ve received so much support from the Irish, and it all dates back to 1847.

During the time of the Great Hunger in Ireland, during which more than a million Irish starved to death, a donation of $170 (about $5,000 in today’s money) was sent to Ireland from the Choctaw Nation. The Choctaw people had been suffering themselves during the Trail of Tears, an event that refers to a series of forced relocations of approximately 60,000 Native Americans in the United States from their ancestral homelands. They could empathize with those starving thousands of miles away, so they raised money to help.

Now, over 173 years later, the Irish are repaying that act of kindness. As one of the members of the Navajo Nation involved in the fundraising, Cassandra Begay, explained to the Irish Times: “We noticed that we were getting a lot of donations from Ireland so we were wondering why . . . sorry, I get emotional talking about this part … And I learned about what the Choctaw did for the Irish people, and it was so beautiful.”

The comments on the GoFundMe page are a testimony to a grateful country who want to do their part to help the Native Americans during their plight today. “In very dark days you reached out to us from across the world although you were suffering greatly yourselves, donation given with the greatest of respect, gratitude, love and hope. Ireland remembers,” shared one donor, Sharon L.

Other donors left a powerful message in their native Gaelic tongue: “Ní neart go cur le chéile,” or “There’s strength in unity.” And some left a simple message of “Ireland remembers.”

While it’s horrific to see so many affected by this current pandemic, it’s heartwarming to see how one kind act from well over a century ago sparked another from a very grateful people.


Read more:
How the Irish potato is saving the lives of millions


Read more:
Irish school trades homework for acts of kindness

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