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The Long March: The Choctaw's Gift to Irish Famine Relief

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In 1847, an impoverished group of Choctaw Indians collected $170 from their meager resources for the relief of Ireland's Potato Famine. "The Long March" is the story of Choona, a young Choctaw who must make his own decision about whether to answer the Irish people's plea for help. Illustrations.
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Overview

In 1847, an impoverished group of Choctaw Indians collected $170 from their meager resources for the relief of Ireland's Potato Famine. "The Long March" is the story of Choona, a young Choctaw who must make his own decision about whether to answer the Irish people's plea for help. Illustrations.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This deeply moving work quietly and effectively underscores the drama and pathos of a little-known historical episode. In 1847 the Choctaw, themselves impoverished, raised $170 (the equivalent of more than $5000 today) to aid the Irish, then in the throes of the great potato famine. The inspiration for the Choctaw's gift is eloquently explained by Choona, an elderly Choctaw who flashes back to his 14th year, when the gift was made. When the people of Choona's tribe hear that Choctaw leaders have asked everyone to contribute, some wonder why they should help the Nahullo (Europeans), who drove them from their homelands in the Southeast only 16 years earlier. Then Choona's great-grandmother speaks, describing the arduous 500-mile march to the New Lands (now Oklahoma), during which starvation and fever decimated the tribe ("Half our people were goneAll the old ones. All the small children. Gone"). Her commanding conclusion wins over the tribe: "We have walked the trail of tears. The Irish people walk it now. We can help them as we could not help ourselves." Fitzgerald, an Irish children's book author and artist, illustrates the story with sharply detailed black-and-white drawings that incorporate period ornaments and clothing. The book design, which superimposes unattractive yellow text blocks over the drawings, does not match the sophistication of the storytelling. Ages 7-12. (May) FYI: A portion of the proceeds from this title will benefit Celts & American Indians Together, an Irish/Choctaw organization dedicated to world famine relief.
Publishers Weekly
In a starred review, PW called this story of the Choctaw Indians, who raised money to aid the Irish during the great potato famine, "a deeply moving work." Ages 7-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
In this first person account, the reader shares Choona's feelings as he reminisces about his people assisting the Irish in 1847. He had often wondered about the history of his people; unspoken words hung heavy whenever Mississippi or the Long March was mentioned. His answers came in his fourteenth year when his father and uncle brought news about the potato famine in Ireland and the request for monetary help. Anti-European sentiments were strong among the people since the white people had forced them from Mississippi and marched them to the "Indian Territory" in Oklahoma. Talihoyo, Choona's great-grandmother, recounted the Long March and explained that the Irish were suffering much as they themselves had suffered. She suggested that the Choctaw help. In giving, the Choctaw were "forced to face their past" and move forward. Fitzpatrick, who is Irish, worked closely with WhiteDeer, who is Choctaw, to produce a moving story in both text and intricately detailed pen and pencil drawings. A note explains that a binational organization, Celts and American Indians Together (CAIT), is attempting to raise $1.7 million for world famine relief, hoping to complete the circle begun by the $170 gift given by the Choctaw to the Irish in 1847. 1998, Beyond Words Publishing, Ages 8 to 12, $14.95. Reviewer: Jenny B. Petty
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5In the 1830s, the United States government forced the people of the Choctaw Nation to leave their homeland in the area of Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, and to walk 500 miles to Indian territory, which later became Oklahoma. These people suffered from starvation, cold, and lack of promised provisions. Many died along the way. Yet, in 1847, when a call went out to help people starving during Ireland's Potato Famine, the Choctaw responded, and sent all they could collect from their meager earnings. This sophisticated picture book describes a Choctaw family who must decide if they want to help faraway Europeans, and who, in the process, try to come to terms with the humiliation and suffering they felt about the Long March. Fitzpatrick collaborated with Choctaw representatives to relate this moving true story with universal appeal. Her striking black-and-white drawings capture the events and show great respect and dignity for all of the characters and their concerns. The words and illustrations work together extremely well, presenting the story in a clear and compelling manner.Darcy Schild, Schwegler Elementary School, Lawrence, KS
Kirkus Reviews
Responding to a nationwide appeal during the Irish potato famine, the impoverished Choctaw nation collected $170 (about $5,000 in modern terms) only 15 years after their forced relocation by whites to what is now Oklahoma;with fine insight, this commemoration explains how and why the Choctaw were able to set their anger aside. Choona, too young to know the details of his people's long march, hears the tale from his great-grandmother and rebels at the thought of sending money to Europeans; he comes to understand that the gift will help its givers as much, if not more, than its receivers. Working with tribal experts, Fitzpatrick gets the visual and cultural details right, and illustrates her episode with large, precise pencil drawings of realistically modeled figures and objects. This is a moving tribute to a little-known act of generosity, an "arrow shot through time," that will leave readers astonished and deeply affected. (Picture book. 7-9)
From the Publisher
"The story will leave readers astonished and deeply affected." -Kirkus Reviews"[Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick's] striking black-and-white drawings capture the events and show great respect and dignity for all of the characters and their concerns. The words and illustrations work together extremely well, presenting the story in a clear and compelling manner."-School Library Journal"Marie-Louis 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. This story is a lesson for all people around the world today."-Gregory E. Pyle, Chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781883672911
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 1/1/1999
  • Edition description: ILLUSTRATE
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 7 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 11.28 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

GARY WHITEDEER is and award-winning artist and historic preservationist who has been featured on TBS's The Native Americans and National Geographic's When Ireland Starved. He lives in Ada, Oklahoma with his family, who served as models for the characters in the story.
MARIE-LOUISE FITZPATRICK is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Reading Association of Ireland Children's Book Award, and the Irish Children's Book Trust "Book of the Decade Award." She lives in Dublin, Ireland.

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Customer Reviews

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