TUSKAHOMA, OK – A sculpture honoring the relationship between the Choctaw Nation and the people of Ireland will soon be erected on the Choctaw Capitol grounds in Tuskahoma, OK. The project is funded jointly by the Choctaw Nation and the Government of Ireland. The piece, titled “Eternal Heart,” was selected after a call for submissions was initiated last year.
Samuel Stitt, of Spokane Valley, WA, a member of the Choctaw Nation, submitted the winning entry. “Eternal Heart” combines a Celtic trinity shape intertwined with a heart. “There is no beginning or end to the overall piece – thus, it is eternal,” said Stitt.
The sculpture will have a specific orientation, with the heart – representing the Choctaw Nation – facing toward Ireland.
March marked the 176th anniversary of the Choctaw people mustering a gift of $170 to ease suffering of the Irish during the potato famine. The gift was even more significant due to the Choctaws having just completed their trek on the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma. The sculpture display will include an informational sign and winding path.
“All the elements are symbolic and created with specific references in mind,” said Stitt.
The concrete base for the 8-foot-tall piece is edged with diamond shapes, a Choctaw symbol of reverence to the diamondback snake. The sculpture will sit atop a mound, honoring the heritage of mound-building of the Choctaw ancestors as well as the ancient “hill forts” and mounds found in Ireland. Even the winding footpath represents the Trail of Tears, with the exact orientation mirroring the arduous route from the Mississippi homelands to Indian Country.
The “Kindred Spirit” sculpture, unveiled in 2015 in Cork, Ireland, symbolizes the connection and appreciation of the Irish for the Choctaw people.
“I want to congratulate Samuel Stitt on being awarded the commission,” said Ireland’s Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister), and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin T.D. “Last year, as Taoiseach, and together with Chief Gary Batton, I announced the launch of this new project, which is intended to serve as a permanent legacy in Tuskahoma of the solidarity that exists between our peoples, just like the sculpture in Bailick Park, Midleton in County Cork.”