Cherokee Nation burial assistance continues through pandemic
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation’s burial assistance program continues to serve citizens through the COVID-19 pandemic, working with families through email.
“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cherokee Nation’s burial assistance program is being arranged through email with program staff rather than the in-person process that was used before the pandemic,” Human Services Manager Angela King said.
Since January, the program has assisted with 161 requests, Human Services officials said.
According to cherokee.org, the program is designed to “relieve or totally eliminate the financial hardship associated with traditional funeral cost for indigent impoverished or low-income families with little or no resources.”
The program makes available two burial assistance options for eligible families to select from. Eligible families must select one of the funeral homes that have an active contract with the CN.
The program is not an entitlement program, meaning that being a CN citizen or any other federally recognized tribe does not automatically make a person eligible for benefits under the program.
“Before making arrangements with funeral homes, families who would like to request burial assistance from the Cherokee Nation should make contact with a family advocate first. This helps ensure eligibility criteria have been met,” King said.
Eligibility requirements can be found on cherokee.org under Human Services.
The deceased must be a citizen of a federally recognized tribe, verified by a tribal citizenship card (a blue card for CN citizens). The deceased must have been a resident of the CN jurisdiction for six months prior to the date of death.
The deceased and his or her immediate family may not have resources (life insurance, veteran’s benefits, cash, savings accounts, etc.) exceeding $2,800. The deceased and his or her immediate family may not have income for the previous month greater than 150% of the National Poverty Level income standards.
“The tribe continues to assist with burials for our tribal citizens and we are working closely with funeral homes, which have been excellent partners for us during this time,” King said. “If a family does not have access to email their information to us, funeral homes have done this for the family, sending the necessary documents to us by email.”
For a complete list of funeral homes that have an active burial contract with the CN, visit https://www.cherokee.org/all-services/human-services/family-assistance/burial-assistance-program/
and click on the Participating Funeral Homes link.
For information call 918-453-5422 or email firstname.lastname@example.org