“Whatever high crimes and mass deaths and lasting pain can be attributed to the perpetrators of genocide on innocent people, the truth is, we must forgive. And what of the Choctaw-Irish connection? We cannot blame the people standing before us for the mistakes their ancestors made. The wrong we are attempting to right in this volume is ignorance. Ignorance of the truth about the Irish Potato Famine, and the cruelty and deaths that resulted from the Choctaws who were forced on the Trail of Tears.
We forgive, for that is how we lighten the burden and allow our own lives to proceed; but we will never forget. And why? So it will never happen again. That is our hope, our wish, our prayer. May the tragedies of our peoples never happen again. Our gift, the Choctaw Gift to the Irish, is a gift of love. Love and respect for you, your children, your husbands, wives, your ancestors, those buried and those hovering about. We send you blessings and hope that the spirit of joy will shine upon you every day of your life – and beyond.”
These are the writings of Choctaw Author, Tim Tingle in the book, “Famine Pots: The Choctaw-Irish Gift Exchange, 1847-Present” by LeAnne Howe and Padraig Kirwan, which entails a collection of 15 essays written by both Irish and Choctaws (such as Tim and others), about the beauty of the bond between the Irish and the Choctaw.
Today’s episode is one to celebrate – it’s Native ChocTalk’s 50th episode! But more importantly, this year (2022) is one of commemoration and contemplation, as it’s the 175th anniversary of the Choctaw gift to the Irish in which they sent funds for food during Ireland’s deadly famine.
Some of the conversations in today’s episode are difficult to hear. My guest, Seth Fairchild of the Chahta Foundation and I talk about the realities and suffering of the Irish Famine. But you’ll also hear about the beauty of kindred spirits that were born out of the kindness of strangers, and the bond that resulted from a small gift presented by those who were also suffering.
You’ll also learn about:
• The origin of the potato and its introduction to Ireland
• How and why the Irish famine began
• The grave mistreatment of the Irish
• What the Choctaws felt and did upon hearing the news of the famine in Ireland
• Why funds were sent to the Irish, despite the Choctaw facing hardships themselves
• The Choctaw-Irish connection and similarities that go back for centuries
• The Chahta Foundation and the Choctaw-Ireland Scholarship in which you’ll hear from Claire Green Young on her experience as a Choctaw college student in Ireland
• Alex Pentek’s monument, Kindred Spirits (a tribute to the Choctaw for their kindness)
I’d like to dedicate today’s 50th episode to the people of Ireland. The suffering of your ancestors will never be forgotten. And may our people’s kindred spirits live on for centuries to come.