Citizens of Ireland are donating money to native American tribes that are suffering from the coronavirus pandemic to pay back a debt dating back to 1847 during the 19th-century potato famine. As reported by Sky News, a GoFundMe campaign to help tribes badly hit in Navajo Nation across Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona has received a flood of donations from the North Atlantic country.
The debt dates to March 1847 when the Choctaw Tribe heard of the Irish Potato Famine ravaging Ireland, TIME reported. Although the tribe was struggling with their own means, it still provided $170 in relief — $5,000 in modern currency — for blankets, food, and feed for livestock. The donation came after approximately 60,000 Native Americans had been impacted by the Trail of Tears, which forced them from their ancestral homelands in the United States and led to disease, hunger, and exhaustion. This suffering, Sky News claims, made them empathetic to the pain of the Irish people.
“From Ireland, 170 years later, the favour is returned! To our Native American brothers and sisters in your moment of hardship,” one Irish donor wrote on the GoFundMe.
“From an Irish brother to our native American brothers,” another wrote. “Karma always comes back around.”
Vanessa Tulley, one of the GoFundMe campaign’s organizers, spoke of the “heartache” that the pandemic has created and the many sacred Navajo elders and youth that have been lost to the deadly virus. She also noted that the Irish Great Hunger Famine inspired “several” recent donations to the campaign.
“In moments like these, we are so grateful for the love and support we have received from all around the world,” Tulley said.
“Acts of kindness from indigenous ancestors passed being reciprocated nearly 200 years later through blood memory and interconnectedness. Thank you Ireland for showing solidarity and being here for us.”
As reported by RTE, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who leads Ireland’s Fine Gael liberal-conservative political party, visited the Choctaw community in March 2018 to thank them for their debt and announced a scholarship program to allow Choctaw Native Americans to study in Ireland. In addition, a sculpture called Kindred Spirits was unveiled in 2017 in Bailick Park in Midleton, County Cork, Ireland, to commemorate the Choctaw people’s generosity.
Just 16 years after the Choctaw Native Americans were forced off their land onto the "Trail of Tears," they raised $170 of their own money—worth tens of thousands of dollars today—in aid for people during the Irish famine. This monument in Cork, Ireland honors the Choctaw Nation. pic.twitter.com/wJn2WzVGJ5
— Atlas Obscura (@atlasobscura) April 21, 2018
Navajo Nation has one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates per capita in the United States, TIME reported. The territory struggles with a lack of running water, and some homes also lack electricity. As of Tuesday afternoon, the GoFundMe has reached over $1,838,000 of its $2,000,000 goal.
The United States has 1.21 million cases of coronavirus as of Tuesday afternoon. As The Inquisitr previously reported, the pandemic has caused wealthy people to flee densely-packed regions for safer areas — a luxury that can’t be afforded by more impoverished areas like Navajo Nation.