Ireland Pays Tribute to Choctaw Nation’s Kindness

Posted By Toyacoyah Brown 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.”

each feather is unique.jpg

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.

Alex Pentek. Kindred Spirits. 2013. Memorial to the Choctaw Nation's aid to Ireland during the the great Famine. from Alex Pentek on Vimeo.

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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About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

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michael pettengill

That is just about the nicest story I have seen with all the awfull news here in the states.

Craig Apelbaum

I saw the video. It’s a nice tribute.


Blessings to you. In sharing memorials & the people’s art, I tell your story to many, as part of the work with my Irish Famine Orphan Heritage group. Annually as I gather the people for ceremony @ Famine Rock in Melbourne, we commemorate Ireland’s Great Hunger, and in solidarity with those who hunger today. Our ‘Standing Stone’ plaque flags the dispossession of our own indigenous people, and also the 4000+ Earl Grey Famine Orphan girls who having lost all we hold dear, were sent to be servants in the new colonies in Australia from the Irish workhouses (1848 -1850). My paternal great great grandmother was one of these girls, so I feel such gratitude to the Choctaw Nations, & the speaking of the art in the circle of eagle feathers. In considering your Cork based memorial, there is also a feeling of coming home, with my on-going studies into the old indigenous ways & their beautiful respect for community & Nature.

In me finding our seashore memorial by serendipity in 2008, and reflecting on unrest and sorrow in the past, and our modern lives, I want to share a thought, which you already know and have demonstrated: we are never alone. In our darkest hour, unbeknownst to us, there are those who honour and respect us; ‘thoughts are things’, they can be made manifest, and the work of our hearts’ output unites us.

Chris Nolan

Wonderful to hear of such humanity from a great group of people.


I would like to download a photo of the Memorial…How do I do that, please???


I just LOVE this memorial….it is BEAUTIFUL! My ancestry is part Irish and Native American, on my Mother’s side of the tree…What a WONDERFUL thing for the Choctaw Nation to do to help the Irish…I am Grateful!




It is very generous of Ireland to do this, and I find it very humbling and heart warming that they wanted to do something so unnecessary. As a human it was necessary to do what our ancestors did. I fear their honor and integrity is being eroded by people who say things like “our people are not used to deserved honor”. This saddens and frightens me. We are pure in our own eyes, we are patting ourselves on the backs, we say we are good when actually we continue to sin and break God’s laws. Self-righteousness keeps us from Jesus Christ.

woman watching sanders

how nice to see this, our people here are not used to deserved honor,this is great.



As a member of the Choctaw Nation this article brings me such honor and joy to know that the Irish would pay tribute to us like this. I’ve always heard stories of our histories together since I was young but this is just truly magnificent and special. I don’t know how else to say it except thank-you to Alex Pentek and all of Ireland. I told my family and they are just overjoyed! Once again thank-you for this great honor and may our kinship and love for one another last through the generations.

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