Native American generosity to Irish during the Great Famine honored in feather sculpture

Wonderful feather sculpture

'Kindred Spirits' Sculpture

The Irish potato crop collapsed between 1845 and 1852, resulting in the Great Famine, which came to be recognized as such. 2 million people left the country, while almost 1 million people perished from famine. Along with having negative economic impacts, this cultural upheaval led to one of the biggest mass departures from a single island in history.

Although there was disaster relief from all across the world, one group of individuals stood out for their compassion. The Native American Choctaw Nation donated $170 in 1847, at the height of the famine, which is comparable to around $5,000 today. The gesture not only provided food for the hungry Irish, but it also established a relationship between two cultures that endures today.

A monument called Kindred Spirits honors the Choctaw Nation’s presence in the Irish village of Midleton in County Cork. The stunning, six-meter-tall sculpture was made of stainless steel by Cork-based artist Alex Pentek. It has a number of enormous steel feathers that are meant to represent the Choctaw ceremonial feathers. The parts are placed in a circular to resemble the form of an empty bucket, which is a common representation of the famine-stricken Irish people. I needed to demonstrate the bravery, frailty, and compassion that they demonstrated in my work, Pentak claims.

So because Irish people also had to endure the trauma of leaving their homeland, the Choctaw Nation felt compassion for them. The Choctaw people were forcibly removed from their land and told to transfer to specific areas of Oklahoma just 16 years before the Great Famine. The Choctaw refer to the incident as the “path of tears and death” since millions of people trekked more than 1,600 km (over 1,000 miles) without much in the way of supplies. As a consequence, 4,000 people passed away from illness, starvation, and the cold.

There are many instances of how the Choctaw and the Irish continue to assist one another in regard to the Kindred Spirits memorial. A number of Choctaw leaders participated in the inaugural Famine walk at Doolough in County Mayo in 1990. In 1995, Irish President Mary Robinson paid a visit to the Choctaw Nation to express gratitude for their assistance. Additionally, the Irish community contributed more than $1 million in 2020 to support the Navajo Nation during the COVID-19 outbreak. Individuals from Ireland and the Choctaw Nation continue to collaborate to help hunger victims in other parts of the world.

The Kindred Spirits monument honors the assistance provided by the Choctaw Nation during the Great Famine in County Cork, Ireland.

'Kindred Spirits' Sculpture

When lit with rainbow-colored lights at night, it appears even more gorgeous.

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