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Irish prime minister thanks Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma

March 13, 2018

Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton, right, presents Ireland Prime Minister Leo Varadkar with a Choctaw flute during Varadkar's visit to the Choctaw Nation in Durant, Okla. on Monday, March 12, 2018. The visit is part of a forged connection between the countries that dates back to 1847 when the Choctaw Nation made a donation to Ireland to help the country in a time of need. (Chris Landsberger,/The Oklahoman via AP)

DURANT, Okla. (AP) — The prime minister of Ireland has visited members of a Native American tribe in Oklahoma to thank them for a gift sent 171 years ago.

Members of the Choctaw Nation collected $170 in 1847 and sent it to Dublin to help feed the Irish during a potato famine. The money would be worth about $4,400 today.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar met with tribal members on Monday in the southern Oklahoma city of Durant as part of a weeklong trip to the U.S. He said the gift is a sacred memory and bond.

The gathering included Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who said she was supporting the Choctaw Nation and Oklahomans.

Choctaw Chief Gary Batton visited Ireland last year to attend the unveiling of a sculpture called Kindred Spirits that commemorates the relationship between the tribe and Ireland.

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