On June 25th, 2019, our group gathered together in Norman, Oklahoma to discuss the needs of migrant children who have been separated from their parents. Our own tribal histories contain too many stories of such separation—our families have been torn apart by warfare, forced removal, boarding schools, imprisonment, and trauma. We know too well the trauma caused by such separation—trauma that lasts for generations. And so, the situation of these migrant children—most of whom are Indigenous—touched our hearts in a particular way. Like so many around the world, we have felt bewildered, helpless, and unsure what to do about this tragic situation.
When we heard that 1,400 children were scheduled to be placed in Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma, we knew we must act. Fort Sill—located on the ancestral lands of the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache—is a place that has imprisoned Native people, forcibly boarded Native children taken too far from home, and even served as an internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II. As Aunties, we understand these migrant children as our Indigenous kin and as KIN (Kids in Need). Battles over policy are long, but in the meantime, children have immediate and material needs. It is our mission to tend to those needs as best we can whether they are at Fort Sill or in camps along the border.
We quickly realized that helping migrant children would be the first of many initiatives we will launch. And so, The Auntie Project was born that night—over the next few days, we organized and incorporated as a non-profit. We look forward to sponsoring many initiatives over the years to come to support kids in need—here in communities, in our state, or wherever Native children are in need of Aunties.