Choctaw Nation welcomes Irish PM - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Choctaw Nation welcomes Irish PM

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Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, right, is welcomed to Durant. (KTEN) Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, right, is welcomed to Durant. (KTEN)
The Choctaw Nation welcomed Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar to Durant. (KTEN) The Choctaw Nation welcomed Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar to Durant. (KTEN)

DURANT, Okla. -- Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar made a special stop in Durant Monday to visit with the Choctaw Nation.

The two nations share a rich history dating back to 1847, when the Choctaw Nation sent money to Ireland during the great famine.

They celebrated their bond through music, dancing and culture.

"This link between the Irish and the Choctaw is one of shared experience... both having experienced tragedy in our history, famine, and the trail of tears," Varadkar said, adding that the tribe's act of kindness 171 years ago will never be forgotten on the Emerald Isle.

"I think it's a bond that we can keep going and we can renew every year," the prime minister said.

That strong bond was illustrated last year when a statue was unveiled in Ireland to celebrate their joint history.

"We went through our trials and tribulations," Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton said. "We've been able to persevere and stay strong and stay united."

Chief Batton added that he would love to visit Ireland every year and continue to celebrate Choctaw-Irish history.

"We want to make sure and continue this relationship that we've had for 170 years," Batton said. "There's no way we're going to let that spirit die; we're going to continue to make it alive and well."

During his visit, the prime minister announced a scholarship for Choctaw students travel to Ireland for studies.

Varadkar will be traveling to the White House on Thursday to visit with President Trump.

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