The Long March


When Lisa put forth the Summer Reading Challenge as a topic for the 7th Edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, I pondered what to submit. First I thought of my favorite Irish author, Maeve Binchy, whose novels make terrific summer reads (or good winter ones, wrapped up in an afghan with a hot drink nearby!). Trouble is, I’ve read all her books available in the U.S., and her latest won’t be published over here until 2009. Besides, I wanted something a little more pertinent to a genealogy topic. I remembered my favorite quote by Irish poet William Butler Yeats: “Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.” (I can correlate that to the genealogy vs. family history issue.) But I’m not a big reader of Yeats, so that was no good, either.

Aha! My mind flew back to when I was a homeschooling mom, over nine years ago (was it really that long?!), and I had found some interesting recommended books while teaching a Social Studies unit on Native Americans to my then second-grade daughter. One in particular was given high praise no matter in what resource it was listed: The Long March: the Choctaw’s Gift to Irish Famine Relief by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick (Hillsboro, Oregon: Beyond Words Pub., 1998). It is a creative non-fiction work about a young Choctaw boy, Choona, who overhears his elders discuss taking up a collection to help the starving Irish during the potato famine. Choona knows, even though the adults do not speak of it, that his family endured hardship and suffering during the Trail of Tears and wonders how they can possibly want to aid white people, who live so far away.

This incredible true story was beautifully illustrated by the author using as models the family members of Gary Whitedeer, himself an award-winning artist and historic preservationist who has been featured on TBS’s The Native Americans and National Geographic’s When Ireland Starved. The impoverished Choctaw nation raised $170 (equivalent to $5,000 today) to aid the Irish cause. If you have children in your life–and even if you don’t–you will want to obtain this book. It is an emotional experience, and I dare you to read it without shedding a tear or two!

The book was named “A Smithsonian Notable Book for Children” in 1998 and won the Children’s Books of Ireland BISTO Book of the Year Merit Award, 1999. But there’s more to all this. In 1992, eight native Irish citizens retraced the steps of the 500-mile Trail of Tears as repayment for the Choctaw’s great gift, and to raise awareness of famine relief in Somalia. In 1995, the President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, visited the Choctaw Nation to personally thank them. Two great nations, both knowing suffering and starvation, are bonded at a deeply emotional and spritual level. It is a heritage of which anyone would be proud.

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The Long March


When Lisa put forth the Summer Reading Challenge as a topic for the 7th Edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, I pondered what to submit. First I thought of my favorite Irish author, Maeve Binchy, whose novels make terrific summer reads (or good winter ones, wrapped up in an afghan with a hot drink nearby!). Trouble is, I’ve read all her books available in the U.S., and her latest won’t be published over here until 2009. Besides, I wanted something a little more pertinent to a genealogy topic. I remembered my favorite quote by Irish poet William Butler Yeats: “Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.” (I can correlate that to the genealogy vs. family history issue.) But I’m not a big reader of Yeats, so that was no good, either.

Aha! My mind flew back to when I was a homeschooling mom, over nine years ago (was it really that long?!), and I had found some interesting recommended books while teaching a Social Studies unit on Native Americans to my then second-grade daughter. One in particular was given high praise no matter in what resource it was listed: The Long March: the Choctaw’s Gift to Irish Famine Relief by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick (Hillsboro, Oregon: Beyond Words Pub., 1998). It is a creative non-fiction work about a young Choctaw boy, Choona, who overhears his elders discuss taking up a collection to help the starving Irish during the potato famine. Choona knows, even though the adults do not speak of it, that his family endured hardship and suffering during the Trail of Tears and wonders how they can possibly want to aid white people, who live so far away.

This incredible true story was beautifully illustrated by the author using as models the family members of Gary Whitedeer, himself an award-winning artist and historic preservationist who has been featured on TBS’s The Native Americans and National Geographic’s When Ireland Starved. The impoverished Choctaw nation raised $170 (equivalent to $5,000 today) to aid the Irish cause. If you have children in your life–and even if you don’t–you will want to obtain this book. It is an emotional experience, and I dare you to read it without shedding a tear or two!

The book was named “A Smithsonian Notable Book for Children” in 1998 and won the Children’s Books of Ireland BISTO Book of the Year Merit Award, 1999. But there’s more to all this. In 1992, eight native Irish citizens retraced the steps of the 500-mile Trail of Tears as repayment for the Choctaw’s great gift, and to raise awareness of famine relief in Somalia. In 1995, the President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, visited the Choctaw Nation to personally thank them. Two great nations, both knowing suffering and starvation, are bonded at a deeply emotional and spritual level. It is a heritage of which anyone would be proud.

Ancestry Hosts Free Online Ethnic Seminars

Do you have German, Irish, Polish, or Italian ancestry? Ancestry.com is offering free online ethnic seminars (called webinars) online on Tuesday evenings this month and July 1st (5 PM Pacific Daylight Time). You do not need to have an Ancestry subscription to participate. You can go to this page to get more information and register for these classes. Links will be immediately e-mailed to you so that you can access the webinars on the days of their showings. You should click on one of the links ahead of time to test your computer’s audio and video capabilities.

I’m a little disappointed I didn’t hear about this sooner, because I missed the English genealogy webinar that was broadcast June 3rd!

Hat Tip: Genealogy Guys

Ancestry Hosts Free Online Ethnic Seminars

Do you have German, Irish, Polish, or Italian ancestry? Ancestry.com is offering free online ethnic seminars (called webinars) online on Tuesday evenings this month and July 1st (5 PM Pacific Daylight Time). You do not need to have an Ancestry subscription to participate. You can go to this page to get more information and register for these classes. Links will be immediately e-mailed to you so that you can access the webinars on the days of their showings. You should click on one of the links ahead of time to test your computer’s audio and video capabilities.

I’m a little disappointed I didn’t hear about this sooner, because I missed the English genealogy webinar that was broadcast June 3rd!

Hat Tip: Genealogy Guys

This and That

Reading through my e-mail this morning, I came across these little snippets of interesting items to share with my readers:

  • *The Dowagiac [Michigan] Daily News has a fascinating article about Verge Hawkins, who is lecturing on African-American history at the Museum at Southwestern Michigan College’s spring lecture series. He encourages families to study genealogy together “because if you have different generations, they can focus on some things and tell their story. When you tell your own story, you’re a much stronger person.”
  • *”Today Michigan lawmakers will begin contemplating one of the most heated questions within the adoption community — should upwards of 20,000 people be allowed to access family information that has been kept secret for decades? Bills in both chambers of the Legislature would allow people adopted between 1945 and 1980 to obtain their original birth certificate. It also would allow birth parents to tell the state whether they want to be contacted, and how. A hearing on the matter will be held today before the House Families and Children’s Services subcommittee.” My paternal grandmother was one of the “lucky” adoptees whose adoption was finalized in 1940 (when she was 16), so she was able to access her own birth certificate. Thousands of Michigan adoptees have never had that chance. Read more here.
  • *From Cyndi’s List Mailing List, a website where you can do an Irish placename search, Irish Ancestries.com. The placename finder is on this page.
  • *Looking for Michigan newspapers that might carry obituaries online? This list appears to have current–not historical–papers, but some have archived obits, so check it out.
  • *From the Oakland County Mailing List at RootsWeb came this terrific news: “Later this year the State Library will be putting digitized death certificates for Michigan on its website. The years covered will be 1900-1910. Granted its not as much as some states but for Michigan that’s a major step!”

This and That

Reading through my e-mail this morning, I came across these little snippets of interesting items to share with my readers:

  • *The Dowagiac [Michigan] Daily News has a fascinating article about Verge Hawkins, who is lecturing on African-American history at the Museum at Southwestern Michigan College’s spring lecture series. He encourages families to study genealogy together “because if you have different generations, they can focus on some things and tell their story. When you tell your own story, you’re a much stronger person.”
  • *”Today Michigan lawmakers will begin contemplating one of the most heated questions within the adoption community — should upwards of 20,000 people be allowed to access family information that has been kept secret for decades? Bills in both chambers of the Legislature would allow people adopted between 1945 and 1980 to obtain their original birth certificate. It also would allow birth parents to tell the state whether they want to be contacted, and how. A hearing on the matter will be held today before the House Families and Children’s Services subcommittee.” My paternal grandmother was one of the “lucky” adoptees whose adoption was finalized in 1940 (when she was 16), so she was able to access her own birth certificate. Thousands of Michigan adoptees have never had that chance. Read more here.
  • *From Cyndi’s List Mailing List, a website where you can do an Irish placename search, Irish Ancestries.com. The placename finder is on this page.
  • *Looking for Michigan newspapers that might carry obituaries online? This list appears to have current–not historical–papers, but some have archived obits, so check it out.
  • *From the Oakland County Mailing List at RootsWeb came this terrific news: “Later this year the State Library will be putting digitized death certificates for Michigan on its website. The years covered will be 1900-1910. Granted its not as much as some states but for Michigan that’s a major step!”

The 3rd Edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture is Posted

Lisa at Small-leaved Shamrock has just posted the 3rd edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture. It’s no coincidence that today is also St. Brigid’s Day, who is second only to St. Patrick as one of the most revered saints in Ireland. In honor of St. Brigid’s Day and all things Irish, nine participants have written 11 articles about their favorite real or fictional places in Ireland. My own post is about my ancestral home of Letterkenny, County Donegal, a place I’d love to visit someday. I hope you take an hour or so to enjoy your armchair travels to the Emerald Isle!

Lisa invites all of you to join her in the 4th edition of the Carnival, with the following details: “Whether you go traveling or not, plan to take a trip with us on the next Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture: the 4th edition.

“Here’s the scoop:

March is Irish heritage month in many places, thanks to the feast day of St. Patrick, beloved saint of Ireland. Our topic for this month will be anything and everything about Irish heritage, genealogy and culture. Posts about St. Patrick will be appreciated, but posts related to any meaningful aspect of Ireland’s heritage are welcomed. To borrow an idea from Bill West’s genealogy parade, we’ll have our very own virtual St. Patrick’s Day parade!

“The deadline is March 14, 2008. Submit your parade entry here. Then come join us for the parade on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2008. On the feast of St. Patrick, everyone likes to be Irish, at least for one day. Hope to see you at the parade wearing your green!”