The Choctaw’s simple act of kindness: LAPC

A simple act of kindness, Kindred Spirits Sculpture, Midleton, Ireland 5March2020

In 1847, the worst year of Ireland’s Great Famine, people of the Choctaw Nation of the southeastern United States sent a gift of $170 to Ireland. The money, worth thousands in today’s dollars, was collected to help the starving people of Ireland. Over a million Irish people died from starvation and disease in the period from 1845 to 1849.

Honoring a small act of kindness

Cork-based sculptor, Alex Pentek, created the Kindred Spirits sculpture to help honor that simple act of kindness. The Making of Kindred Spirits shows the artist discussing its creation. The 20-foot tall sculpture, in Midleton, County Cork, was unveiled to the public in 2017. It stands in Ballie Park beside a popular walking trail.

Ballie Park, Midleton, Ireland 5 March 2020

But why would the Choctaw have sent such a gift when many of their people were struggling to survive? In 1831, the Choctaw were the first tribe to be forcibly removed from their native lands because of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. People of the Seminole, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Muscogee (Creek) nations, and many non-natives and people of African descent who lived with the tribes, were also forced to move. Between 1830 to 1850, they forced tens of thousands of people from nine states to move to what is now Oklahoma. The perilous journey would become known as the Trail of Tears. Thousands died from exposure, disease, starvation, and harassment by local frontiersmen.

A simple act of kindness, Kindred Spirits Sculpture, Midleton, Ireland 5March2020

In 1847, the Choctaw were still recovering from the injustice they had experienced. They shared what little they had to help the starving Irish people.

The nine curved eagle feathers of this sculpture, arranged in a circular shape, symbolize an empty bowl. Each feather is different and they represent the Choctaw Nation’s strength, kindness, and humanity.

Close up of Kindred Spirits sculpture, Midleton, Ireland 5 March 2020

A bond between nations

The simplicity of this sculpture and the simple act of kindness it symbolizes, touched my heart. At the unveiling ceremony, a Cork County official said:

They bestowed a blessing not only on the starving Irish men, women and children, but also on humanity. The gift from the Choctaw people was a demonstration of love and this monument acknowledges that and hopefully will encourage the Irish people to act as the Choctaw did.

Joe McCarthy, East Cork municipal officer
Kindred Spirits sculpture, Midleton, Ireland 5 March 2020

Members of the Choctaw Nation attended the opening ceremony. They felt humbled by the recognition they received 170 years later. At the ceremony, the Choctaw Nation’s chief said:

Your story is our story. We didn’t have any income. This was money pulled from our pockets. We had gone through the biggest tragedy that we could endure, and saw what was happening in Ireland and just felt compelled to help…

The bond between our nations has strengthened over the years. We are blessed to have the opportunity to share our cultures, and meet the generous people who have continued to honour a gift from the heart.

Chief Gary Batton, Choctaw Nation
Close up of Kindred Spirits sculpture, Midleton, Ireland 5 March 2020

Update: The kindness continues…

A couple of days ago I read an article in The Irish Times about people in Ireland participating in a fundraiser to help Native Americans suffering from the coronavirus. Native people have been especially hard hit by this virus. A GoFundMe page was set up for the Navajo & Hopi Families Covid-19 Relief Fund on 15 March 2020. Their goal was to raise $1.5 million but as of today, 7 May 2020, they have raised $3,019,390.00.

Donations have come from all over the world, but many of the donors have Irish surnames. They remember the kindness the people of the Choctaw Nation showed them in the past.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Simplicity

Irish Stew & Brew: One Word Sunday Challenge

Irish Stew & Brew at the Quays in Galway, Galway County, Ireland 2March2020

A traditional Irish stew & brew at The Quays Bar and Music Hall in Galway, County Galway, Ireland. This stew, accompanied by a Guinness, is a local specialty served at this restaurant.

Wherever you are on this St Patrick’s Day, treasure the things that matter to you the most.

Here’s to your roof,
may it be well thatched
And here’s to all
under it –
May they be
well matched.

Irish Toast

Travel with Intent: One Word Sunday – Specialty

Glimpses of Ireland & Northern Ireland

She unfurled her gossamer wings and searched for a far away land, greener than green. After a journey of many miles, she caught glimpses of Ireland & Northern Ireland. When she landed in a lush green pasture, a part of her remembered…

Glimpses of Ireland & Northern Ireland, Newgrange Monument, 29February2020
Newgrange Monument, County Meath, Ireland

Though I usually keep my travels within driving distance, I just returned from a 10-day trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland with my daughter. After losing my brother and father within months of each other, I felt an urge to visit the land of my ancestors.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, County Antrim, United Kingdom
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, County Antrim, United Kingdom

We drove about 1,600 miles and I took lots of photos. I will be sprinkling glimpses of Ireland & Northern Ireland into my blog occasionally. Enjoy the scenery!

Glimpses of Ireland & Northern Ireland, the Dark Hedges, United Kingdom
The Dark Hedges featured in Game of Thrones, County Antrim, United Kingdom