Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Cultural Parallels: Ireland - Choctaw 2

In an earlier post, I alluded to a workshop I attended.  During the lunch break, I wandered around the public library where the workshop was held, and browsed around in their periodical section.  I stopped at a pile of 'Irish America' magazines.  I grabbed a few and sat down in a comfortable chair for a little in depth browsing.  Casually leafing through the December/January 2015 issue, I was delighted to find an article by Matthew Skwiat entitled, 'Celebrating an Irish - Choctaw Thanksgiving'. 

 He wrote, "Eye witness accounts of the Trail of Tears that the Choctaw had suffered through in many ways mimicked those that came out of the Irish Famine. Ironically it would be this event where the two people's met.  Upon hearing of the famine in Ireland, many Choctaw leaders banded together and raised $170 as a generation donation to the Irish people."

This act of kindness led to the organization of the Irish -Choctaw Thanksgiving, a special two day event featuring from both cultures, music, dancing, art, speakers, films, and joyous interaction between the people.  The similarities of the their suffering had, in the past. led to 'Famine Walks' at Doolough in County Mayo, and a 500 mile trek from Mississippi to Oklahoma.  These events raised money to feed the hungry.

This article was an energy jogger for me.  I started my novel in 2011, and this validated the concern and interest I had in the two cultures.  My firm belief in serendipity was also validated and strengthened, convincing me that my recognition of the plight of the Irish and indigenous people of this hemisphere was more than a figment of a novel writer's imagination.

My challenge becomes finding similarities when my characters meet in the 17th century, long before the famine and the Trail of Tears.  To date I have found fifty-one.  I'll share them over time.