Burial Assistance offers help in tough time

BY DILLON TURMAN
01/10/2012 08:09 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – When a family member dies, the last thing the family wants to think about is a funeral cost. Fortunately for low-income Cherokee Nation citizens, they can get help covering funeral costs with the tribe’s Burial Assistance Program.

CN Family Assistance Director Jerry Snell said the Nation’s service includes a one-time maximum payment of $2,500 for traditional burial and cremation services in partnership with more than 100 churches and funeral homes across Oklahoma and even some out of state.

He said several areas in which the tribe has partnerships are Tulsa, Muskogee, Nowata, Vinita, Grove, Tahlequah, Stillwell, Locust Grove and Siloam Springs, Ark.

However, there are income guidelines for the program. Snell said simply showing a citizenship card to a federally recognized tribe won’t get you assistance.
“The deceased must be a member of a federally recognized tribe, and must not exceed $22,000 in income annually,” Snell said. “The services are strictly for low-income, federally recognized tribe members.”

He said the family is also asked questions about the deceased’s resources, income and address before burial assistance is granted. “We also focus on dependents and resources before we provide service.”

The CN also considers financial dependencies. Such as bank accounts, trust funds, life insurance policies and veteran benefits before providing assistance.
Snell said the tribe provides assistance to more than 200 burials annually, making no limitations on how many burials are assisted as long as the deceased has met all of the requirements and lived within the CN jurisdiction. To acquire assistance, one must provide the following for the deceased: proof of physical address such as a utility bill; Social Security card; CN citizenship card; Certificate Degree of Indian Blood card; proof of income for the previous year and for his/her immediate family; and proof of all available financial resources, including but not limited to bank statements.

For more information, call 918-453-5000 or email human-services@cherokee.org.

dillon-turman@cherokee.org • 918-207-4975

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