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A Valued Piece Of Choctaw Indian Costumery Resides In Thurles

Picture shows a beaded, star shaped, neck tie medallion, latter a gift from International Artist and Choctaw Indian nation member Mr Waylon Gary White Deer, which will go on show at this year’s Lions Club, Vintage & Classic Car Show, scheduled for Sunday May 13th next in St. Patrick’s College Campus Thurles.

The tale of the Choctaw Indian Nation (Name derived from the Choctaw phrase ‘Hacha hatak’ meaning ‘River People’), and their donation to Ireland’s Great Famine (1845-1850) victims is indeed one of firstly, great association and secondly, responsive compassion.

In the year 1847 referred to as “Black 47”, the Choctaw Indian community collected $170 to send to the Irish victims of the Great Famine, which is today’s equivalent of, in or around, €4,000. This great sacrifice by the Choctaw Indian Nation was sent despite the fact that they themselves had undergone a similar hardship involving exposure, disease, and starvation, some 15 years previously; same being forced to move west of the Mississippi by the government of Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), in a journey known and remembered today in history as the “Trail of Tears”.  In 1831, the Choctaw Nation became the first to be removed, and their removal served as the model for all future relocations.

[Note: After two wars, the Seminoles Indian nation were removed in 1832. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation were removed in 1834, the Chickasaw Nation in 1837, and finally the Cherokee Nation in 1838].

Choctaw Indian Nation member Mr Waylon Gary White Deer, himself an Internationally Renowned Artist, visited Thurles back in 1999, leaving a gift of the beaded neck medallion, which can be seen at this year’s Lions Club, Vintage & Classic Car Show, scheduled for Sunday May 13th next in St. Patrick’s College Campus Thurles.

During World War I, Choctaw soldiers served in the U.S. military as the first Native American ‘Codetalkers’. 1

Yesterday the Irish Taoiseach, Mr Leo Varadkar, met with Choctaw leaders and addressed members of the nation community at an event in Oklahoma, 2 the 28th-most populous of the 50 United States of America, where he thanked members of the Choctaw Nation for the generosity shown by their ancestors to the island of Ireland during this period in Irish History.  Mr Varadkar stated that at a time when the Irish people were being oppressed, abused, neglected and degraded by our Irish colonial master, the Choctaw spirit of generosity was at its highest.

He went on to announce a new scholarship programme, which in the future will allow members of the Choctaw Native American community to come here to Ireland to undertake further study; with the first scholarship commencing in the autumn of 2019.

  Codetalkers: The use of obscure or little understood language, in this case the Choctaw language, for to provide a form of coded radio and telephone transmissions during wartime, offering secret communication.

2  Oklahoma: The name is actually derived from the Choctaw words ‘okla’ and ‘humma’, meaning “Red People”.

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