Irish town built a memorial to thank Native Americans who helped during Famine

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A sculpture of nine eagle feathers will be installed in Bailic Park, in Midleton, Co Cork to thank the Choctaw Indians for their kindness and support during the Great Irish Famine.

Despite the oppression faced by the Choctaws in the years preceding the famine, on hearing of the plight and hunger of the Irish people in 1847, they raised $170 to send to the Irish people and ease their suffering. This figure is equivalent to tens of thousands of dollars in today’s currency.

The sculpture, consisting of nine giant, stainless steel eagle feathers, is currently being completed by Cork sculptor Alex Pentek. Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Pentek says, “I wanted to show the courage, fragility and humanity that they displayed in my work.”

The $111,000 (€100,000) sculpture will be officially unveiled in a few months and invitations have been sent by Joe McCarthy, East Cork’s municipal district officer, to Choctaw leaders.

Sculpture thanking the Choctaw Nation in Cork. Photo by Irish Examiner.

Sculpture thanking the Choctaw Nation in Cork. Photo by Irish Examiner.

In what is one of the most surprising and generous contributions to Irish famine relief, a group of Choctaw people gathered in Scullyville, Oklahoma, on March 23, 1847 to collect funds for the starving Irish people. They passed money collected onto a U.S. famine relief organization, in an extraordinary act of kindness from those who already had so little.

Just 16 years prior to this collection, the Choctaws were among one of the so-called “civilized tribes”, who were forced off their land by President Andrew Jackson (the son of Irish immigrants) and forced to complete a 500-mile trek to Oklahoma that would become known as the Trail of Tears.

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