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Irish dig deep for tribes to repay famine kindness

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Callie Armstrong, of the Choctaw Nation, in Cork to commemorate the donation

Callie Armstrong, of the Choctaw Nation, in Cork to commemorate the donation

Callie Armstrong, of the Choctaw Nation, in Cork to commemorate the donation

It is a memory that Ireland has never forgotten.

173 years ago in 1847, a Native American tribe were so moved by the suffering caused by the Great Famine that they ignored their own poverty to send donations across the Atlantic to help a people they did not know.

The Choctaw Nation donated a total of $170 (the equivalent of around €4,500 today).

The tribe made the donation while wealthier nations effectively ignored the unfolding disaster in Ireland.

It became one of the most famous gifts of famine aid - and a kindness Ireland has never forgotten.

Now, Irish people are flocking to donate to a pandemic appeal fund for the Navajo and Hopi tribes - inspired by how Native Americans tried to help Ireland at its time of greatest need.

Swathe

The appeal fund was launched after the Covid-19 virus cut a swathe through tribal elders and Indian families over the past eight weeks.

Almost 50 deaths have been reported among Navajo and Hopi Indians across Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.

The appeal aims to raise cash to help with medical needs, food aid and the provision of masks, hand sanitisers and other personal protective equipment (PPE).

Launched on March 15, it has now raised just under €2m - most of it from people in Ireland or of Irish descent.

The appeal was organised by the Rural Utah Project education team, with team member Vanessa Tulley saying: "The favour is returned through generous donations from the Irish people to the Navajo Nation during our time of crisis.

"In moments like these, we are so grateful for the love and support we have received from all around the world."