UCC scholarship to recognise role of Choctaw Nation in Ireland

UCC scholarship to recognise role of Choctaw Nation in Ireland

The sculpture Kindred Spirits in Midleton, Co Cork, commemorates the generosity of the Choctaw Nation during the Famine. Picture: David Creedon / Anzenberger

A university scholarship in recognition of the solidarity shown by the Choctaw Nation towards the people of Ireland during the Great Famine has been extended for three years.

A scholarship programme for members of the Choctaw community at University College Cork (UCC) has been extended following its pilot phase. 

In 1847, during the Famine, the Choctaw Nation sent relief aid worth $170, the equivalent of €4,600 today, from Oklahoma to the Irish while they themselves were living in poverty. Announced first in 2018, the scholarship programme was launched as a joint initiative of the Irish Government and the Choctaw Nation.

It covers the EU tuition fees and a stipend of €10,000 towards the student’s living costs.

Students can choose from a range of taught masters at the College of Arts, Celtic Studies, and Social Sciences at UCC.

The announcement came on Monday as Jessica Militante, the first recipient of the scholarship, graduated.

“Congratulations to Jessica and we wish her all the best,” Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said. 

I hope to see many more graduations from this scholarship over the coming years.”

The annual scholarship programme has helped foster greater ties between Ireland and the Choctaw Nation, he added. 

In 2017, the generosity of the Choctaw Nation was marked in Co Cork with the unveiling of a sculpture. The piece, 'Kindred Spirits', by Cork-based sculptor Alex Pentek, is on display in Midleton.

The stainless steel sculpture is made of nine 20ft eagle feathers, arranged in a circle and reaching towards the sky. It is a metaphorical representation of a bowl filled with food, presented to the hungry.

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