This article appeared in the May 05, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Irish-Native American empathy without borders

Kristin Murphy/The Deseret News/AP
Vehicles line up for COVID-19 testing outside the Monument Valley Health Center in Oljato-Monument Valley, Utah, on April 17, 2020. The Navajo Nation has one of the highest per capita coronavirus infection rates in the United States.
David Clark Scott
Audience Engagement Editor

You’ve probably heard the expression, “Pay it forward.” 

Well, 173 years later, the Irish are returning a favor. 

In 1847, in the depths of the Great Potato Famine, members of the Choctaw Nation gave $170 (worth about $5,000 today) to Ireland. Why? Long-distance empathy.

Just a few years before, some 60,000 Native Americans (including the Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek, and other tribes) had known suffering, starvation, and death during a forced relocation march known as the Trail of Tears.

Today, the Navajo Nation has been hit harder by COVID-19 than any other Native American reservation. And many Irish have responded by supporting a GoFundMe campaign that’s raised more than $1.9 million for the Navajo and Hopi nations in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. 

“Thank you, IRELAND, for showing solidarity and being here for us,” wrote Vanessa Tulley, one of the Navajo relief organizers in Arizona.

On Monday, Joseph Webb donated $50 and wrote: “In remembrance of your ancestors and their kindness to the people of Ireland. We are one world and one people, together we will get through this. Be safe.”

Empathy knows no borders. And kindness has no expiration date.

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This article appeared in the May 05, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 05/05 edition
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