Irish donors have sent money to native American tribes badly hit by the coronavirus to repay the kindness the Choctaw Nation tribe showed Ireland during the Great Famine.
More than 70 people have died with Covid-19 in the Navajo Nation, which lies across parts of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. The Navajo Nation has more confirmed cases per capita of COVID-19 than 48 US states.
Navajo and Hopi families set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for food, water, essential supplies and personal protective equipment, which has raised more than $1.67m with the Irish singled out for their support.
Several donations came from Ireland, inspired by the help provided by the Choctaw Nation tribe during the famine.
The native American tribe donated $170 — the equivalent of $5,000 today — to help the Irish people in 1847.
Around 60,000 native Americans, including the Choctaw, had suffered through the Trail of Tears, a series of forced relocations from their ancestral homelands during which thousands died from starvation, disease and exposure.
In 1847 the Choctaw Nation, fresh off the Trail of Tears, heard of the Irish Famine and sent help from far away.
Their covid-19 appeal is getting messages of gratitude and solidarity from Irish donors.
Irish donor Pat Hayes said: “From Ireland, 170 years later, the favour is returned! To our Native American brothers and sisters in your moment of hardship.”
Another said: “They didn’t forget us. We won’t forget them.”
One of the campaign’s organisers, Vanessa Tulley, wrote: “The heartache is real.
“We have lost so many of our sacred Navajo elders and youth to Covid-19. It is truly devastating. And a dark time in history for our Nation.
“In moments like these, we are so grateful for the love and support we have received from all around the world. 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.”