ireland and the indigenous peoples of north america 

How the Choctaw Gift has come full circle during COVID-19 

In February 2021 we will host a virtual event which will be a case study in Allyship focusing on Indigenous Peoples. This event will tell the incredible story of the relationship between the people of Ireland and the Indigenous Peoples of North America—especially the Choctaw, Navajo, and Hopi people. 

An amazing giving circle was started by a gift of $170 from the Choctaw people to the Irish during the Potato Famine in the mid 1800s. That life sustaining gift is now being paid forward by the Irish people to the Navajo and Hopi people during their special challenges in the face of COVID-19. Please read this article or watch this video to learn more.

The Navajo and Hopi relief fund profiled in this story is the creation of Harvard Alumni Association Elected Director and enrolled Navajo Tribal Member, Ethel Billie Branch, AB '01 JD/MPP '08, who will be taking part in our February allyship event.

While our event will take place in February, the crisis that is inspiring thousands of acts of allyship by the Irish people is coming to a head over the next few weeks. Knowing this, we would like to respectfully ask for your support now, as the Harvard Club of Maryland will be co-sponsoring this event in February. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a particularly devastating impact on the Navajo and Hopi people. According to the CDC, Americans living in rural areas like the Navajo and Hopi reservations are three times as likely to die from COVID-19 as those living in urban centers. Please watch this 3 minute video from Ethel's team - video link. (

For more information on the event (DATE WILL BE ANNOUNCED) and how you can make a difference right now, please:

Join US

Thank you, 

Ethel Billie Branch AB '01 JD/MPP '08 Elected Director Harvard Alumni Association
Alice Hill AB ‘81 PhD ‘91 Past President Harvard Alumni Association
Moana Palelei HoChing ALB ’15 President Harvard Alumni for Oceania
Emily Van Dyke AB '03 MD/MPH '09 President Native American Alumni of Harvard University and Harvard Club of Seattle Board Member
Hannah Kilgore M. Ed ’10 President Harvard Club of Ireland
Bob Manson MPA ‘04 Club & SIG Director Harvard Alumni Association  
Matthew Hegarty AB ‘82 President Harvard Club of Boston

Karen Elizabeth Boyle AB '94 President Harvard Club of Maryland