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athgarvan

FAMINE MEMORIES

I have been invited to the official opening on Monday of a large extention to Midleton CBS College in County Cork of which I was Principal some years ago. I am looking forward to visiting the old place again although many of the staff I knew there have retired by now.

I am also looking forward to seeing a sculpture which was erected close to the college two years ago. It is a sculpture of nine giant, stainless steel eagle feathers to thank the Choctaw Indians for their kindness and support during the infamous Great Irish Famine. It is by Cork sculptor, Alex Pentek, who said he wanted to show the courage, fragility and humanity that they showed.

Despite the oppression faced by the Choctaws themselves in the years preceding our famine, on hearing of the plight and hunger of the Irish people in 1847, they raised $170 to send to the Irish people to ease their suffering. This figure is equivalent to  tens of thousands of dollars in today’s currency.

Just 16 years prior to this, the Choctaws were one of the so-called “civilized tribes”, who were forced off their land by President Andrew Jackson and forced to complete a 500-mile trek to Oklahoma that would become known as the Trail of Tears, and is still remembered today. It is this terrible journey that inspired Pentak for his creation. “To see members of your family drop to the side of the road and to be powerless to change that course of history. That stirred my imagination.”

Comments

I'd never heard of this. Thank you for sharing.
for both people there was leaving and tears

you must have heard the news from USA
Andrew Jackson who signed the Indian Removal Bill is bing removed from the face of our $20 bill and replaced with Harriet Tubman
(it's not clear from what i have read if he will remain smaller and on the back of the bill)

there is much rejoicing by many here
$20 is the most used US bill

Harriet Tubman was born a slave
She sustained a head injury (how the accounts differ) and had health problems all her life
But she became a leading figure in the cause for abolition leading many people to freedom

She was born and conducted her escapes not far from where i live
a park and center is being built on part of what was the plantation where she was enslaved
My thoughts also as i read this post.
That is very interesting piece about Jackson.
I also did not know that bit of North American history.

It must have been very difficult for the the Choctaw to get their hands on one-hundred-seventy dollars in 1847.
They contributed the money to a central fund set up to help the victims of the famine.
Perhaps some of your old college's will be there as well. Wouldn't that be a nice visit !
Love the sculpture.

The Choctaw, Chickasaw and other tribes of the Southern US were gathered together and forced on the Trail of Tears to walk to Oklahoma - land that had been designated as "Indian Territory". There were other Trails of similar focus that the Navajo and the eastern Sioux were forced to walk at different times in our less than glorious history.

Even into the 20th century, with the walk of the prisoners from one death camp to another ahead of the Soviets or the Bataan Death March, the act of walking and having to leave behind those who fall has been repeated time and time again.

The feather sculpture is really magnificent and will help remind your people of a time in their history where others who were downtrodden lifted their hands to help. We all need those reminders now and again.

- Erulisse (one L)
Yes, history repeats itself. We never learn. But it's good to be reminded.