Plans are underway to erect a sculpture that memorializes the aid that the Choctaw people sent to Ireland during the Great Irish Famine.
In 1847, the Choctaws pulled together $170 to send to the starving Irish populace, a sum that is reckoned to be worth more than $5,000 today. The gift established a bond between the Choctaws and the Irish that is still recognized today. In 1992, a delegation from Ireland trekked a 500-mile path from Broken Bow, Oklahoma, to Nanih Waiya, Mississippi, following the route (in reverse) so many Choctaws had taken on the Trail of Tears in 1831. In 1995, Irish President Mary Robinson visited the Choctaw Nation, where she was made an honorary chief.
Now, a sculptor is creating a memorial near the southern Irish city of Cork to pay tribute to the suffering of the Irish and the kindness of the Choctaw.
Alex Pentek expects his “Kindred Spirits,” an arrangement of nine massive stainless-steel feathers, to be completed a few months from now. It is to be installed in Bailic Park, in Midleton, County Cork.
Pentek explains on his website that the work is “an empty bowl symbolic of the Great Irish Famine formed from the seemingly fragile and rounded shaped eagle feathers used in Choctaw ceremonial dress.”