This despite the fact that during the War of 1812 the Choctaws had been allies of then General Jackson in his campaign against the British in New Orleans.
Perhaps their sympathy stemmed from their recognition of the similarities between the experiences of the Irish and Choctaw. They note that both groups were victims of conquest that led to loss of property, forced migration and exile, mass starvation, and cultural suppression (most notably language).
The photo above shows a memorial to the victims of the Doolough Tragedy which took place on March 30, 1849.
To receive relief, hundreds of starving Irish were instructed to travel many miles in bad weather. Increased attention to the Great Famine in recent years has led to renewed recognition of the Choctaw donation.
For example, in March of 1847, at the time of the Choctaw donation, 734,000 starving Irish people were forced to labor in public works projects in order to receive food.
Little wonder that survivors referred to the year as “Black ’47.” What potatoes were harvested were shipped, by the English, outside of Ireland.
Moved by news of starvation in Ireland, a group of Choctaws gathered in Scullyville, Okla., to raise a relief fund. The Choctaw Indians may have seen echoes of their own fate in that of the Irish. In the fall of 1845, the potato blight in Ireland began. The Irish were only permitted potatoes by the English authorities, and when the potatoes perished, so did they.
The Choctaw people reached deep into their own pockets and cumulatively came up with 0 to contribute to the plight of the Irish, who, by the way, never forgot their generosity.
Two years later, two dozen people from Ireland came to the U. and retraced the 500-mile Trail of Tears from Oklahoma to Mississippi.
That same year the Choctaw tribe made Ireland’s president, Mary Robinson, an honorary chief.
As we like to say, “Isn’t it time to live, laugh and love again?
On March 23, 1847, the Indians of the Choctaw nation took up a collection.