A sculpture of nine eagle feathers commemorates the time in 1847, during the Great Hunger, when the Native American Choctaw People donated a substantial amount of money to the Irish famine relief.

In 2015, a statue was commissioned to be built in Midleton, County Cork, Ireland, to honor the kindness of the Choctaws. But the story begins in 1831, when the Choctaw people were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands in Mississippi.

A few years later, Choctaws learned of people starving in Ireland. Only sixteen years had passed since the Choctaws had faced hunger and death on the first Trail of Tears and a great empathy was felt when they heard such a similar tale coming from across the ocean. Individual Choctaws collected and donated $170 in 1847 to assist the Irish people.

Jump ahead a century and a half. It took a year for artist Alex Pentek to create Kindred Spirits. With its nine eagle feathers reaching 20 feet into the air, the statue represents “this great moment of compassion, strength, and unity,” said Pentek.

The official unveiling is expected to take place later this spring. For the month of March we would like to share with you a story from a Choctaw Nation employee. Shannon Compton recently visited Midleton, County Cork, Ireland, and expressed her thoughts and feelings when she saw the statue.

This is not the first time that the Choctaw nation has been honored in Ireland. In 1990, Choctaw leaders traveled to County Mayo to take part in a reenactment of the desperate walk undertaken by locals to their landlord in 1848. The gesture was returned in 1992, when Irish commemoration leaders took part in a 500 mile trek from Oklahoma to Mississippi. Former Irish President Mary Robinson has also been named an honorary Choctaw chief.

A plaque acknowledging the contribution of the Choctaw people to the one million Irish people starving during Black ‘47 , the worst year of the famine, is mounted in Dublin’s Mansion House and reads, "Their humanity calls us to remember the millions of human beings throughout our world today who die of hunger and hunger-related illness in a world of plenty."

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

  1. In a world filled with greed corruption it is so wonderful to see tow wonderful nations, the Irish and our Native Indian Nation show their humanity and appreciation and gratitude for a "people" going out of their way for another. There is nothing more blessed than one soul helping another. I could not be more proud of you. Much love and respect Sandra Reid

  2. Anonymous says:

    What an incredibly beautiful memorial. I did not know this history and am humbled by the generosity and heart of the Choctaw nation and of the Irish.

  3. Unknown says:

    Beautiful! I hope there will be more compassion show in this world.

  4. Nia says:

    A lovely memorial to a selfless act of lovingkindness...many can learn from this

  5. What a wonderful heartwarming story. We are all truly one human family. As the son of Irish immigrants to England, I also grew up feeling "other". I stretch out my hand to my Choctaw brothers and sisters across the ocean.

  6. This is so magnificent and says so very much for those people of these two groups. May they always be Blessed in their footsteps.

  7. mimi itis says:

    I was ignorant of this story, but find it so compassionate, and thrilled that Ireland paid this wonderful tribute to the Choctaw nation.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It is so hauntingly beautiful it takes my heart away.

  9. Anonymous says:

    We are all one family, descendants of Noah, his wife, 3 sons (Shem, Ham, and Japheth) and their 3 wives after the flood (Genesis 6).

  10. christine says:

    Amazingly beautiful tribute to our Native Americans, their compassion in action

  11. Absolutely awesome display of love and gratitude across the great pond!!

  12. sharon says:

    Will plan to visit in July's visit to County Cork !

  13. Our ancestors are showing us the way forward for all Nations...

  14. Unknown says:

    that is wonderful. my people, the natives of north america are so long forgotten by many, yet we exist still! what a wonderful act so long after, goodness comes with rewards, no matter how long after. gorgeous sculpture!

  15. A lovely sculpture and an even lovelier sentiment. I love our Native Americans and all they stand for. I love the Irish, my heritage, and the beauty of the land and it's people. Two very authentic cultures coming together is so peaceful and encouraging in this world we live in today. I appreciate the sculptor's sensitivity to the lightness and fineness of the expression of the sculpture. Just beautiful!!

  16. Unknown says:

    Very fitting tribute.....That being said,the word "famine"does not apply! The very definition of "famine" is a scarcity of food; Ireland at that time had an ABUNDANCE of food. The potato crop was the ONLY failure. The were vegetables of all sorts: carrots, cabbages, parsnips, beets, spinach, et cetera. The were sheep, cattle, chickens, pigs,and dairy cows. Being an ISLAND there was more than enough fish and other seafood. The fishing boats were stocked with not only seafood, but animals, vegetables, fruits, et cetera, and delivered to ENGLAND! Plain and SIMPLE; IT WAS GENOCIDE!!

  17. Anonymous says:

    What a beautiful monument.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Beautifull!! I was not aware of this. How can this be thought to the rest of the would. God blessed!

  19. ruben says:

    Another wonderful story of compassion not widely known is of the Turkish Sultan who in 1847 helped Ireland during the Great Hunger, through his character, love of humanity, and a generous spirit he assembled an armada of grain and money to be given to the Irish people. This story will be made into a movie, the story is well documented here:

  20. Unknown says:

    A group of Choctaws collected $710 and sent it to the starving people in Ireland, a truly an amazing gesture considering that it was just sixteen years after the ‘Trail of Tears’. The Choctaw’s could well relate to hunger.

  21. Unknown says:

    If anything we choctaws are humble people

  22. Stephanie says:

    Beautiful! Love the story, the statue, and the humanity.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I am in awe and stand humbled by the resilience of the Choctaw and the Irish but of all people who have stood up to the diversity this world has been plagued by.

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