THE LONG MARCH: THE CHOCTAW’S GIFT TO FAMINE RELIEF by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick

The Long March by Marie Louise Fitzpatrick

“Mary Louise-Fitzpatrick tells a story of the heart–a story that holds the promise of life and keeps our eyes always focused on a brighter future.  The story is a lesson for all people around the world today Yakoke.”

~Gregory E. Pyle, Chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The story is indeed a moving one.  After the Long March, an enforced walk from Mississippi to Oklahoma, the Choctaw Nation gather to discuss an important issue for their tribe.  The year is 1847 and the impoverished tribe has heard about the Irish Potato Famine, and collected $170.00 to send to Ireland.  Choona, the narrator, is a boy and his great-grandmother Talihoyo is an elder who speaks convincingly of why they should help the Irish people:

“We have walked the trail of tears.  The Irish People walk it now.  We can help them as we could not help ourselves.  Our help will be like an arrow shot through time.  It will land many winters from now to wait as a blessing for our unborn generations.” 

The book itself is not only written with a lyrical grace, but the illustrations are stunning.  Mary-Louise Fitzpatrick traveled from Ireland to Oklahoma and illustrated the book with detailed pencil drawings, including portraits of the story characters sketching Gary WhiteDeer’s family.  Truly timeless truth and beauty in this incredible story.

But wait, there’s more!  That arrow that was shot through time?  Well, the Irish people have not forgotten the Native Peoples and their help so long ago.  During this pandemic, they have sent money to help now, “repaying” the favor.  Check out this article from The Washington Post a few days ago.  It gives me goosebumps.

“The Irish are repaying a favor from 173 years ago in Native Americans’ Fight Against Corona Virus”

 

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