American Tribes Sent $170 To Help Ireland With Its 1845 Famine, Ireland Honors This Now By Donating To The Tribes’ $2.9M COVID-19 Relief


They say that people never forget kindness and generosity, especially if it comes at a time when nobody expected any. This time, 173 years have passed and people thought that now was the time to return the favor.

A number of Irish people have started generously donating to the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund on GoFundMe. Many of the donations came with comments like “We will never forget your kindness,” “From Ireland with love,” and “Returning the kindness and grace shown to us during the famine.”

In order to understand this movement in full, let’s rewind.

A GoFundMe was launched to help Navajo & Hopi communities during the difficult COVID-19 pandemic

Image credits: Vanessa Tully / Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund

175 years ago, Ireland found itself in a difficult situation that is nowadays referred to the Great Irish Famine (sometimes the Irish Potato Famine). It was a period of starvation and disease that lasted 4 years, leading to around 1 million deaths, massive emigration, and change in the country’s political and cultural landscape.

During this time, a Native American tribe from current-day Southeastern US territories heard about these troubles and decided to help out their friends across the Atlantic. Having gone through similar events themselves just 16 years prior, which they call the Trail of Tears, they gathered together $170 and sent it to the starving Irish people.

And the fundraiser’s organizers started to notice how a vast number of Irish people are donating

Image credits: mariafarrell

Now, before you go saying that $170 is barely enough (if at all) to make a family of 4 last a week, inflation adjusted, back then this was $4,700 at the very least, with other calculation methods suggesting that it could have been as high as $20,000. Even besides the money, this was a gesture of kindness and solidarity to a people across a vast ocean that they’d had very limited contact with, if any at this point.

So, fast forward 173 years later, today two other Native American communities, the Navajo & Hopi, are undergoing hardship. The localities of these nations are extreme food deserts, with the communities themselves having a high number of elderly, diabetic, asthmatic, and cancer-afflicted residents. So when COVID-19 came along, it was a situation of being kicked whilst being down already.

Turns out, the Irish are now donating as thanks to Native Americans who did the same 173 years ago

Image credits: Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund

As of April 19th, there were nearly 1,200 cases, of which 44 led to deaths among the tribes. According to Cassandra Begay, Director of Communications of this fundraising initiative, the community is experiencing the same numbers of COVID-19 cases per capita as is the State of New York, but they are, unfortunately, not receiving adequate resources to deal with the crisis. This is essentially more than in any of the other 48 US States, as said by Aaron Yazzie in his tweet.

Once a fundraiser was launched to help these communities, a number of Irish people started jumping on board the charity train in solidarity with the Native American people who once reached out a helping hand to them when they were going through similar hardship.

Choctaw tribes donated 170$ (eq. $4,700 today) to Ireland during the Great Famine—so Ireland returned the favor

Image credits: Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund

Soon, the organizers of the fundraiser noticed a trend in their donations: people with traditionally Irish names were sending in donations with comments like “We will never forget your kindness,” “From Ireland with love,” “Returning the kindness and grace shown to us during the famine,” “Happy to repay a debt owed by Ireland,” “When Ireland was in need, you understood what solidarity really looked like,” and similar messages.

This was, of course, referring to the Great Irish Famine, showing that the people have not forgotten the acts of kindness of the American Natives nearly two hundred years ago.

People have begun noticing the wholesome notes under donations, which soon went viral

Image credits: NaomiOhReally

People have begun taking notice of this and spreading the good news on Twitter, which inevitably led to the news extending to other online social media platforms. Naomi O’Leary, an Irish Times Correspondent, was one of the first to notice this and to draw attention to the good deed of the Irish people. Others like Maria Farrell, an Irish speaker and writer, also spread word of the wholesome news, after which the news went viral.

The fundraiser was launched March 15 and has since then raised $2.9 million towards helping the Navajo & Hopi communities. With over 43,000 donors, each donating anywhere between $1 to $5,000, the fundraiser is well on its way to reaching its goal of $3 million.

Watch the official Navajo & Hopi COVID-19 relief video for more details on the issue

Image credits: Karney Hatch

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the best in humanity, and this story once again shows that humans will always be bros in the face of adversity, even if nearly two centuries have passed. And if you want to make it even better, why not donate to the cause here?

What did you think about this feel-good story? Let us know in the comments section below!

Jason Momoa’s pure water relief charity MANANALU also pitched in to help the communities

Image credits: Jason Momoa/ Deidra Peaches

Here’s how people online reacted to this wholesome story

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