Fallin helps welcome Irish Prime Minister to Oklahoma

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Fallin helps welcome Irish Prime Minister to Oklahoma

While in Oklahoma, Varadkar personally thanked Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton for the contribution made by his ancestors and announced a scholarship program that will allow members of the Choctaw Nation to come to Ireland to study. Among the roughly 120 people in attendance were Irish Ambassador Daniel Mulhall, Gov. Mary Fallin and U.S. Attorney Brian Kuester.

His meeting with the Choctaw Nation will commemorate the tribe's fundraising efforts for the victims of Ireland's Great Famine in the mid Nineteenth Century.

"Your act of kinship and generosity nearly two centuries ago is memorialized in our history books and is commemorated on many occasions", Varadkar told the Choctaws.

"Halito. Minko Batton, Himak nittak a Durant vla li ka a kana hosh si aiyokpachi ka yakoke, chim achi li", he said.

"The story of our two peoples - the Irish people and the Choctaw people - symbolizes the spirit of St. Patrick, our patron saint, perhaps better than anything else", Varadkar told a gathering of tribal elders and dignitaries.

He was speaking during a ceremony at the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma. Varadkar will then go to New York for a number of "community, economic and cultural" engagements, including the site of the new Irish Arts Centre and the launch of the New York Washington Ireland Program.

"You showed compassion to a starving people, who were dying in their hundreds of thousands, or about to embark on our own "Trail of Tears" across the Atlantic Ocean to seek a new life in Canada or the United States".

"There is no exact translation, but it means that people live under the wing of others. We rely on each other".

He added: "A few years ago, on a visit to Ireland, a representative of the Choctaw Nation called your support for us "a sacred memory".

"I appreciate Prime Minister Varadkar for coming to Oklahoma to thank descendants of the Choctaw Nation for collecting money to assist his forefathers in the mid-1800s during the potato starvation", said Fallin.

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