For the 2018 fiscal year, the Fifth Osage Nation Congress voted to replenish the burial assistance fund with $450,000 to assist families who apply for the benefit to help cover funeral costs for their loved ones.
On Sept. 25, the Congress unanimously voted 10-0 to pass bill ONCA 17-74 (sponsored by Congresswoman Shannon Edwards) to authorize the $450,000 appropriation from tribal funding in the general treasury.
“This is our best estimate of the amount needed for the calendar year to support Osage families in need of assistance for last rites, burial, cremation, celebration of life of their loved ones, I urge your support,” Edwards said to the Congress before the vote took place.
10 voted “yes” for the burial assistance money with two absences from Congress members Otto Hamilton and Ron Shaw that day. Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear signed the bill for the appropriation to take effect with FY 2018, which started Oct. 1.
The $450,000 appropriation is a $200,000 increase from the FY 2017 burial assistance appropriation, which was $250,000. The burial assistance fund neared depletion during the summer prompting Standing Bear to issue a proclamation for an Aug. 25 special session to appropriate $110,000 to the fund that would cover burial assistance needs through Sept. 30.
According to ONCA 17-74, the burial assistance funding is also appropriated to carry out the mandate in the Osage Constitution under Article XVI – Osage Culture and Language. That section reads: “The Osage People have the inherent right to preserve and foster their historic, linguistic and cultural lifeways. The Osage Nation shall protect and promote the language, culture and traditional ways of the Osage People.”
The Nation offers burial assistance with the maximum assistance amount at $5,000 per person. Applications for burial assistance are submitted to the Nation’s Constituent Services Office and funding for the benefit program is replenished as needed through tribal funding appropriations considered and approved by the Osage Congress.
For questions on the burial assistance benefit, contact Alecia Hutchins or Darian Lookout at the Constituent Services Office at (918) 287-5679 or Financial Assistance Director Jennifer Oberly at (918) 287-5560 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Constituent Services website contains forms and information on burial assistance and other office services at: www.osagenation-nsn.gov/what-we-do/constituent-services