Saturday 17 November 2018

American tribal leader is 'healed' by Donegal life

Choctaw professor Waylon Gary White Deer who has made his home near Errigal Mountain in Cashel na gCorr, Co Donegal. Photo Brian McDaid
Choctaw professor Waylon Gary White Deer who has made his home near Errigal Mountain in Cashel na gCorr, Co Donegal. Photo Brian McDaid

Greg Harkin

A native American tribal leader has set up home in the Donegal Gaeltacht, saying life there has healed him.

Gary Issi-Tohibi - or White Deer - says he feels a connection to the spirit of the land around Mount Errigal where he now lives.

The 63-year-old Choctaw Nation professor says he has been 'invited' to Ireland 17 times and despite only living in Donegal for the past four months, he has already found 'home'.

White Deer's tribe sent $117 to Ireland in 1847 after hearing about the Great Famine. His own tribe had lost thousands of people when it was banished from Mississippi to Oklahoma in 1831 in what became known as the Trail of Tears.

"We believe that you carry a piece of your home with you wherever you go so that is with me today here in Donegal. It is a very easy place to feel the spirit of the land. There is a great sense of place here, the spirit of the land is very much here," he said.

White Deer - who calls himself a First Nation member rather than an Indian or Native American - lives in a small cottage in the townland of Cashel na gCorr, near Gortahork and overlooking Mount Errigal. He has thrown himself into life in rural Donegal, learning Irish phrases and going to the bog.

He passes his days in the Donegal countryside painting and working on a new novel that looks at the modern day tribe.

Irish Independent

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