"In solidarity, from Ireland."
In 1847, the Great Famine, also known as the potato famine, was raging in Ireland and causing mass starvation and disease all across the country. It was a deep pain that another group of people, a continent away, knew all too well.
The Choctaw Nation was only 16 years removed from the Trail of Tears, a forced relocation of natives from their homeland in the south to reservations in Oklahoma. Thousands died along the trail, and all were subject to starvation and disease.
When the tribe learned of the Irish plight, it did something profound: collected $170 to send to the people in Ireland, which is the equivalent of about $5,000 in today's money.
The Irish didn't forget.
As coronavirus has ravaged the Navajo and Hopi Nations, causing around 70 deaths and 2,400 confirmed cases in an area with limited access to medical care, fresh food, and clean water, a GoFundMe site was set up in March to garner support for the tribes.
And Irish journalist retweeted the fundraiser, and it went viral on social media.
Native Americans raised a huge amount in famine relief for Ireland at a time when they had very little. It's time for is to come through for them now. https://t.co/ONl9UXmwdH— Naomi O'Leary (@NaomiOhReally) May 2, 2020
Before long, Ireland had rallied to the cause. As of May 5, it is estimated that the Irish people had donated about a half-million dollars to the fund with more coming in every day. In all, the fund has raised $3,076,360 of its $3,500,000 goal (as of May 7).
"We have now broken the [$3] million mark, in good part due to a beautiful act of solidarity from our friends in Ireland, who remember the kindness shown to them by our Choctaw brothers and sisters, who sent them aid during the great potato famine in 1847. Thank you so much, Ireland!!!" wrote campaign organizer, Ethel Branch.
The Irish donors left several comments on the fundraiser to voice their support.
"The stories of your ancestors kindness to mine has always touched my heart. I am humbled to return the favour in a very small way. Ireland remembers. Le grá/with love."
"In Ireland we don't forget our history and we won't forget the generosity and big hearts of Native Americans. Go n-éirí an bóthar libh!"
"Years ago in Delphi, Connamara I heard the lough Doo famine walk described as Ireland's "trail of tears", and learned of the generosity of the Choctaw tribe to Irelands famine victims. Such amazing kindness reaches through the years."
"In solidarity, from Ireland."
While sometimes it feels the virus has not brought the best in humankind, the number of amazing stories like this far outshines the anger and fear. Let's keep up the good work, fellow humans, and let our actions be influenced by solidarity and kindness, both now and in the future.
If you would like to help the Navajo and Hopi Nations during this time, visit the GoFundMe site to make a donation that will go to food and water distribution on the reservations.
Watch the video below, filmed by documentarian Karney Hatch, for more information on the fundraiser.