Eternal Heart sculpture to honor Irish connection in Choctaw Nation
Rendering Courtesy: Samuel Stitt
(DURANT, Okla.) It’s been nearly two centuries following one act of kindness and the connection between the Choctaw and the Irish people is still going strong. The bond was commemorated with the unveiling of the “Kindred Spirits” sculpture in County Cork, Ireland, in 2015. Several years later, the Choctaw Nation will soon have its own sculpture honoring their friends across the pond.
The bond between the Choctaw people and Irish people was forged in 1847, when the Choctaw Nation gathered up $170 and sent it to Ireland to aid them during the Great Famine, a time of disease, starvation, and detriment worsened by lack of action on the part of the country’s colonial ruler, the United Kingdom.
It was a familiar plight, as the Choctaw people were still reeling from their own devastation on the Trail of Tears and forced relocation to what is now Oklahoma just fifteen years before.
Following back and forth visits between the two nations, a study-abroad program was launched in Ireland for Native Americans to study at University College Cork.
Now, a new collaboration is in the works; a sculpture to be created by Samuel Stitt of Spokane Valley, Washington. Stitt, a member of the Choctaw Nation, submitted the winning entry “Eternal Heart” after a call for submissions last year. The design combines a Celtic trinity shape intertwined with a heart with additional Choctaw elements woven throughout.
“There is no beginning or end to the overall piece – thus, it is eternal,” Stitt said.
The sculpture will be 8 feet tall and edged with diamond shapes, a Choctaw symbol of reverence, and a winding footpath that represents the Trail of Tears. It will sit atop a mound to honor the mound-building of the Choctaw ancestors and the ancient “hill forts” in Ireland.
The heart of the sculpture, representing the Choctaw Nation, will face toward Ireland. It will be funded jointly by the Choctaw Nation and the Government of Ireland with an estimated completion date of December of this year.
“I want to congratulate Samuel Stitt on being awarded the commission,” Ireland’s Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister), and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin T.D. said. “Last year, as Taoiseach, and together with Chief Gary Batton, I announced the launch of this new project, which is intended to serve as a permanent legacy in Tuskahoma of the solidarity that exists between our peoples, just like the sculpture in Bailick Park, Midleton in County Cork.”
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