The Irish have built a monument honoring the Choctaw Nation – nine steel eagle feathers arranged in the shape of a bowl – in acknowledgement of the tribe’s aid to the country during the devastating Irish potato famine.
In 1847, the Choctaw Nation donated $170 to Ireland during the Great Famine that killed approximately 1 million people. It may seem like small change by today’s numbers, but back then the donation amounted to thousands of dollars.
What makes this gift especially impressive is the fact that the Choctaw were having major problems of their own at that time. Only a few years prior, they became the first tribe to be forced to walk the Trail of Tears, a walk that many Choctaw did not survive.
But the suffering of the Irish moved the tribe, and so the Choctaw, who firmly believe in charity, dug deep into their pockets to help a foreign nation across the sea.
The Irish continue to express their gratitude to the Choctaw to this day. The country of Ireland has welcomed Choctaw Nation delegates, and in 1992, Lord Mayor’s Mansion in Dublin unveiled a plaque reading, “Their humanity calls us to remember the millions of human beings throughout our world today who die of hunger and hunger-related illness in a world of plenty” to honor the tribe.
On his website, the sculptor of the monument, Alex Pentek, wrote about the symbolism of the bowl of feathers, saying:
“By creating an empty bowl symbolic of the Great Irish Famine formed from the seemingly fragile and rounded shaped eagle feathers used in the Choctaw ceremonial dress, it is my aim to communicate the tenderness and warmth of the Choctaw Nation who provided food to the hungry when they themselves were still recovering from their own tragic recent past.”
The monument can be found in Middleton, Ireland.