March 15th, 2015 Last Updated on: July 29th, 2018
As reported by Ireland Calling, city officials in Cork, Ireland were looking for a unique way to mark the Choctaw Nation’s generosity and kindness during a dark period of Ireland's history: The Great Irish Famine. Approximately one million people died of disease and starvation, and another million were forced to leave Ireland in order to survive. Even though the Choctaw Nation had suffered their own tragedy, by being removed from their homelands, they felt the need to help out the Irish. The Choctaw raised a total of $170 which would be the equivalent of $71,000 today.
Joe McCarthy, East Cork’s municipal district officer, explained the reason for the project to the Irish Examiner: “These people were still recovering from their own injustice. They put their hands in their pockets and they helped strangers. It’s rare to see such generosity. It had to be acknowledged.”
Of course the acknowledgement could not be small in stature. Officials chose a unique idea from sculptor Alex Pentek to pay homage to the Choctaw. See the artist's rendering below of the Kindred Spirits sculpture.
On his Vimeo page Alex Pentek writes this:
By creating an empty bowl symbolic of the Great Irish Famine formed from the seemingly fragile and rounded shaped eagle feathers used in 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.
I have also chosen feathers to reflect the local bird life along the nearby water's edge with a fusion of ideas that aims to visually communicate this act of humanity and mercy, and also the notion that the Choctaw and Irish Nations are forever more kindred spirits.
I would love to see this in person! I am sure a representative from the Choctaw Nation will be on hand later this year to witness the unveiling of the statue. We will keep you posted if so!
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