Recently, the deep need for relief from the effects of the coronavirus in Native American communities began to make itself known outside the reservations across North America. Notably, a GoFundMe was set up for the Navajo and Hopi peoples that, at the time of this writing, was about to break $3 million -- in large part, thanks to ... Ireland?
Okay, a little backstory: During the Great Famine in Ireland, Choctaw Nation heard about what was happening, and despite the great suffering they were going through themselves, they gave everything they could. The Choctaw scraped together $170, which in 1847 was more money than most people would see in their lifetime (and not just because of the shitty life expectancy), and sent it off to help Irish families get food. Today in Ireland, there is the Kindred Spirits monument, built-in memory of the special bond forged in those times of hardship.
But a monument is not enough, and as the people of Ireland caught wind of the GoFundMe, they rallied and have collectively sent in over half a million dollars -- a number that just keeps going up. For their part, the Choctaw are very grateful for the solidarity being shown by the Irish towards the Navajo here.
The big reason this is such a huge need is that the Navajo people are suffering from the effects of the coronavirus at one of the worst clips in North America right now -- worse than 48 states. Aside from the very real human cost, there is also worry over the cultural loss of the tribal memories and history that lives in their elders.
Furthermore, there's a structural inequity on a massive scale that has saddled Native Americans with an even greater burden in dealing with all this. A shutdown of tribal casinos and resorts has cut off a revenue stream that normally funds essential reservation services such as schools and law enforcement. Hundreds of thousands of casino employees are now without work, and tribal casinos have found themselves at the back of the line for business loans from the United States government. Making it yet another example in the long history of the US government giving a middle finger to Native tribes. At least Ireland is there offering a hand.
Once again, that GoFundMe page is right here, please consider donating if you can.
Top Image: Gavin Sheridan/Wikimedia Commons