In the late 1840s, a series of potato crop failures led to a devastating famine in Ireland. Extraordinarily, just 17 years after their own devastating "Trail of Tears," members of the Choctaw nation here in America, heard of the starvation and sprung into action. They raised $170 for Irish famine relief, an enormous sum at the time - especially when measured against their means.

One of the communities hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, the Navajo and Hopi Nations, which include the Choctaw, recently launched a GoFundMe campaign for front-line services and COVID-19 mitigation. Over $700,000 has been raised to date just from Ireland.

"At Ireland's time of need during the Great Hunger of the 1840s, Native American people donated to the famine relief effort even though they themselves were still living in hardship," said Dermot Burke, one of the donors. Their generosity will never be forgotten."

The backstory is fascinating, and in this radio article, I talk with Christine Keneally, Professor and Director of Ireland's Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, and Judy Allen, Historic Projects Officer for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

The Go-Fund-Me campaign referenced in this article can be found here:

We have used a tune from Paddy Keenan, the great piper, as a musical backdrop: "Johnny's Tune for the Avalon," from his album Ná Keen Affair.