This inspiring show of support can be traced back to 1847, during the height of the Irish potato famine, when the Choctaw tribe in Oklahoma heard of millions of people facing starvation.
Native American tribes hit by the pandemic have found support from an unlikely ally as donations flow in from Ireland in return of a 173-year-old gesture of solidarity. The Navajo Nation has reported 2,373 Coronavirus cases and 73 deaths as of Monday, a higher death rate than any state besides New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, reports The Washington Post. With the elderly and children comprising a majority of the population and many households not having access to running water, communities have been struggling to stay afloat during the crisis. This prompted the creation of a GoFundMe campaign to provide food, water, and other essential supplies for families in the territory, which has now raised over $1,627,800 thanks to a number of big and small donations from grateful Irish citizens.
The Navajo Nation has more confirmed cases per capita of COVID-19 than 48 US states! Navajo has depleted all of her limited resources to battle. Funding to fight is now grassroots fundraising - help if you can: Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund https://t.co/SdK1c5Wxgx— Aaron Yazzie (@YazzieSays) May 2, 2020
This inspiring show of support can be traced back to 1847, during the height of the Irish potato famine, when the Choctaw tribe in Oklahoma heard of millions of people facing starvation. They themselves had just suffered through the Trail of Tears—a series of compulsory relocations from their ancestral homelands in Mississippi that forced them to walk thousands of miles—which saw the death of thousands from hunger, disease, and exhaustion.
Their pain made them empathetic to the Irish's suffering. Although they had very little for themselves at the time and were mourning the loss of nearly a quarter of their population, members of the tribe managed to scrape together $170 (over $5,000 in today’s money) and donate it to the Irish relief effort. Nearly 200 years later, the Irish are returning the favor with heartwarming messages of solidarity and support. "The Irish never forget their friends or those who helped them in their time of need," wrote one of the donors, Neville Doyle. "Without the generosity of your ancestors all those years ago I may not be here," added another donor, Daren McNeill.
Vanessa Tulley, a member of the GoFundMe fundraising team, thanked their friends from across the ocean in an update on Monday, writing: Several of our recent donations for our GoFundMe campaign have been inspired by the Great Hunger Famine in Ireland which started in 1845. During this difficult time, in 1847, the Choctaw Nation provided $170 of relief aid to the Irish to help them (today that is the equivalent of $5,000).
In 1847 the Choctaw Nation, fresh off the Trail of Tears, heard of the Irish Famine and sent every cent they could.— Maria Farrell (@mariafarrell) May 4, 2020
Today, their covid-19 appeal is peppered with message after message of gratitude and fellowship from Irish donors.
They didn't forget us. We won't forget them. https://t.co/X99x6fY1Zp
Not long before the Great Hunger Famine in Ireland, 60,000 Native Americans, including the Choctaw people, had suffered through the experience of the Trail of Tears. The death of many people on the Trail of Tears sparked empathy for the Irish people in their time of need. Thus, the Choctaw extended $170 of relief aid. 173 years later today, the favor is returned through generous donations from the Irish people to the Navajo Nation during our time of crisis. A message from Irish donor, Pat Hayes, sent from Ireland across the ocean: "From Ireland, 170 years later, the favor is returned! To our Native American brothers and sisters in your moment of hardship," she continued.
The heartache is real. We have lost so many of our sacred Navajo elders and youth to COVID-19. It is truly devastating. And a dark time in history for our Nation. In moments like these, we are so grateful for the love and support we have received from all around the world, Tulley wrote. 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. You can donate to the Navajo Nation's fundraiser here.
“The Navajo Nation is larger than West Virginia, but its population of about 300,000 has access to only about 20 intensive care unit beds” and none of the tribes have received any federal relief funds. This is a national disgrace. https://t.co/CrfiqbDbTM— Barbara Malmet (@B52Malmet) May 5, 2020
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