Taoiseach honours 'sacred memory' by announcing scholarship for Native American students

The Taoiseach has announced a scholarship for Choctaw native American students on a visit to Oklahoma, writes Elaine Loughlin.

Leo Varadkar officially thanked the Choctaw nation, whose ancestors provided relief to Ireland during the Great Famine and said both peoples have "sacred bond" which has joined us together.

In March 1847, the Choctaw people of Oklahoma collected some $170, which is the equivalent of several thousand dollars today, for famine relief in Ireland.

In a speech today, Mr Varadkar, who is the first Taoiseach to visit the Choctaw nation said: "Back in the nineteenth century, when the Irish people were oppressed, abused, neglected and degraded by our colonial master, at our lowest, your spirit of generosity was at its highest.

"You showed compassion to a starving people, who were dying in their hundreds of thousands, or about to embark on our own ‘Trail of Tears’ across the Atlantic Ocean to seek a new life in Canada or the United States.

"A few years ago, on a visit to Ireland, a representative of the Choctaw Nation called your support for us ‘a sacred memory’. It is that and more. It is a sacred bond, which has joined our peoples together for all time."

Announcing the new scholarship scheme, Mr Varadkar said: "Our people also share a commitment to education as the single best means of building a better life for our children.

"So, I am delighted to announce today a new scholarship programme, a partnership between the Government of Ireland and the Choctaw Nation, for Choctaw students to study in Ireland.

"This is an opportunity for us to learn from you and from your culture, and you from ours, in a sharing of knowledge that will enrich both our peoples."

The first scholarship will commence in 2019.

Mr Varadkar added: "Our ancestors were joined together in a time of tragedy; our descendants will be united by a spirit of hope."

- Irish Examiner

More in this Section

Man found dead in Cork City centre doorway

Gardaí renew appeal for information on 1977 disappearance of Mary Boyle

Men arrested in connection with Wexford gun seizure released without charge

Richard Satchwell explains comments made about missing wife

Today's Stories

Working poor rise despite economic recovery

Immigrant students more likely to be bullied

Brexit fallback deal on border is ‘legally firm’

Charlie Flanagan to discuss laundries report with Ombudsman


New father’s life ‘changed forever’ after he was run over by surgeon

The biggest cancer killer will take your breath away

Hopefully she had an idea...

Power of the press: Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks discuss 'The Post'

More From The Irish Examiner