Native American 'Aunties' to host family festival

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Shown are members of The Auntie Project: Native Women of Service, a multi-generational group of Native American women in Oklahoma. Their goal is to help Native American and indigenous children in need.

Meet "the Aunties" -- a multi-generational group of Native American women in Oklahoma who recently launched a new nonprofit, The Auntie Project: Native Women of Service. The new organization's single goal is to help Native American and Indigenous kids in need, and its first initiative is sending food to children detained at the U.S.-Mexico border.

A kickoff fundraiser, #4THEKIDS Family Festival, is scheduled for Sept. 15 at the Main Street Event Center in Norman. Kathy Haney (Seminole/Creek) and Amanda Cobb-Greetham (Chickasaw) emphasize that all are welcome. Every dollar raised provides four meals for children. The event includes children's games, arts and crafts, bingo, prize drawings and concessions.

"As Aunties, we understand migrant children at the border as our Indigenous kin and have an obligation to help them." Francene Monenerkit (Comanche) said.

Aunties play a special role throughout the community in most Native cultures, and The Auntie Project's first initiative highlights the generational trauma caused by the forced separation of families, particularly on children. The Auntie Project has developed a partnership with the Oklahoma Regional Food Bank, who will use their network in Texas to ensure food purchased with the funds raised by the Aunties reaches migrant children.

The Auntie Project grew out of the news that 1,400 migrant children were coming to Fort Sill, a site of Native imprisonment and later a Native boarding school. Although plans to place children at the military facility are on hold, it spurred the Aunties to organize. They plan to sponsor many kinds of initiatives for Indigenous kids in need in the future.

The Auntie Project: Native Women of Service is not affiliated with or working on behalf of a specific political party, educational or religious institution, or native nation. To learn more about The Auntie Project, visit theauntieproject.com, @TheAuntieProject.

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