George Catlin (1796–1872). Ball-play of the Choctaw: Ball-up (detail). In 1834 Catlin watched Choctaws playing stickball during his travels in Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma).

How the Choctaws Saved the Irish


We're overstating the case there—the Choctaws didn't save the Irish, but they sure tried to help. The year was 1847, and the the Great Irish Famine (sometimes called the Irish Potato Famine by non-Irish) was in its second year. Individuals in the Choctaw Nation—with the hardships of The trail of Tears, 16 years earlier, perhaps still in mind—learned of the catastrophe in Ireland and sent $170 of their own money to help.

The sum was "equivalent to more than $5,000 today," according to Judy Allen, executive director of public relations for the Choctaw Nation. "Though they had meager resources," she said, "they gave on behalf of others in greater need." Link to story at NMAI blog: "Happy St. Patrick's Day from the National Museum of the American Indian: A Gift from the Choctaw Nation"

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page



Dr. Raymond O'Regan's picture
Dr. Raymond O'Regan
Submitted by Dr. Raymond O'Regan on
As a lecturer in Irish history here in Belfast, Ireland I was amazed to discover the act of humanity from a tribe of native Americans who with very little resources themselves extended the hand of friendship across the ocean to the native Irish in their hour of need.WELL DONE TO THE CHOCTAW NATION

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
I am proud to learn of this. It lends credence to our Native assertion that we are all related, AND shows that our culture cares for people outside our influence. What makes this more dramatic is that the Choctaw had already suffered greatly at the hands of White colonists, yet they freely gave to help others. Although I doubt it, NDNs MAY have had a nefarious purpose behind this, feed them in their own country so they won't come HERE looking for land and food.

Catherine Mill
Catherine Mill
Submitted by Catherine Mill on
I taught his story for years in Ireland and not once were we taught about this. I learned in in research re the Irish as slaves to USA, etc. I am honoured to know our brothers and sisters- the Choctaws even come to celebrate to Ireland and we have their flag too. Like Trail of tears our "famine" was a genocide as we had plenty of other food- as we know now from records and that our food was taken at gun point to feed the industrial cities. I knew this bit as my Dad was a Seanchai. On an inner journey I learned our connection to our brothers and sisters in USA- mound builders etc, etc.