Ireland’s connection to indigenous peoples goes back centuries | Brand voice


There is an old Irish proverb that says “Let the hinges of our friendship never rust.”

“Gary Gait” from is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The problem with Irish proverbs is that they are not just sayings. For the Irish, they represent a way of life.

This is nothing new for the natives.

When World Games rules threatened to kick the Iroquois Nationals out of their very first lacrosse tournament, the Irish did not.

The Irish national lacrosse team voluntarily withdrew from the event to open up a berth in the eight-team tournament for the Iroquois Nationals, the third-largest team in the world.

Ireland finished 12th at the 2018 World Lacrosse Championship, so the Irish were certainly not going to be a championship contender in the event.

The Iroquois Nationals won the bronze medal beating Australia 14-12 in the third place game. They lost to Canada in the semifinals.

However, this fact of life had little bearing on this decision of the Irish.

Anyone familiar with the history of Irish-indigenous relations has not been surprised by this development in the least. The connection between Ireland and the native tribes goes back almost two centuries and goes far beyond the playgrounds of sporting events.

When Ireland was in need, the indigenous people of the Choctaw tribe stepped up to help and the Irish never forgot this act of generosity.

During the Irish Potato Famine of 1845-1849, when an estimated one million people died on the island, Choctaw rulers gave the Irish $ 170 in 1847 to help feed the hungry. Historians estimate the current dollar value of the amount to be around $ 5,000.

More exchanges

This first gift of kindness and concern opened a window to a world of opportunity through which the Irish and the Choctaw shared their respective cultures. A poetic collaboration between Choctaw author LeAnne Howe and Irish poet Doireann Ní Ghríofa helped create the Choctaw-Ireland scholarship program, which allows Choctaw students to attend Irish University College Cork.

Over the years, there have been a number of back and forth between the leaders of the two nations. A feather-shaped sculpture titled Kindred Spirits was created in County Cork to pay homage to the Choctaw.

This year, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Navajo and Hopi nations hard, the Irish people launched a GoFundMe which raised nearly $ 6 million in aid.

RicLaf’s “Ireland VS Canada” is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Lacrosse Move A fitting tribute

The reason given by the World Games for the Iroquois nation’s initial omission was that the World Games follow the rules of the International Olympic Committee, and those rules require all participants to be sovereign states.

The International World Games Association changed that decision and when none of the other seven competing associations raised a protest, the Iroquois Nationals took their rightful place in the event.

The Iroquois Nationals, Australia, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Japan and the United States will be the eight teams entered for the lacrosse competition in Birmingham in July 2022.

The Iroquois Nationals team is made up of athletes from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, which includes the Kanien’kehá: ka (Mohawk), Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora nations.

For the Irish, getting them into the tournament is the only logical outcome.

“We recognized that there was an issue with us and with the Iroquois being number three in the world and not being deemed eligible for this event,” Catherine Conway, Ireland Lacrosse director of communications, told CBC News.

They also recognized that simply speaking out against the exclusion of the Iroquois nation from the event was not going to be a powerful enough statement to express how bad that decision would have been.

“We were convinced that just putting another graphic on social media saying we support the Iroquois was not the right thing to do, because talking doesn’t cost a lot,” Conway said. “We really felt the action was needed.”

Members of the Iroquois Nationals bowed their hats in gratitude for the latest gesture of kindness between the Irish and the Natives.

“We are certainly very grateful and have a lot of respect for Ireland,” said Leo Nolan, executive director of the Iroquois Nationals.

“We are very happy to participate in the competition. Without us it would have been a very different type of tournament.”

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