173 years, $170: Why Irish people are donating to help Native Americans hit by coronavirus

Choctaw Nation

It was a gesture born of suffering and kindness carried over by generations as Alyssa Newcomb writes.

In 1847, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma sent $170 dollars to Ireland during the Great Famine, a time of mass starvation on the island. More than 170 years later, Ireland has returned the favor, helping to raise more than $2 million dollars for the Navajo and Hopi nations, which have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Donors said they viewed it as a chance to pay the good deed forward.

The Navajo Nation has reported more than 2,500 cases of COVID-19 which includes 70 deaths. The rate of infection makes it one of the worst in the United States.

On Tuesday, President Trump said the Navajo Nation would receive $600 million in federal funding.

The donations from the people of Ireland is as symbolic as it is a physical donation. The donations on GoFundMe include messages of gratitude from people in Ireland.

It is a similar feeling all these years later. Back then the Choctaw Nation was showing compassion with Ireland’s people based on their own experiences in the 1800s. Now, it is the good people of Ireland’s turn to pay back the facor.

Donations are being used to buy supplies which include food and personal protective equipment.

The surge of donations from Ireland was acknowledged Sunday by Vanessa Tulley, one of the organizers.

“In moments like these, we are so grateful for the love and support we have received from all around the world. Acts of kindness from indigenous ancestors passed being reciprocated nearly 200 years later through blood memory and interconnectedness,” she wrote. “Thank you, IRELAND, for showing solidarity and being here for us.”

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