Government

ON Congressional Speaker says CARES Direct Assistance application process needed

Photo caption: The CARES Direct Assistance application is available at the Osage Nation Welcome Center in the Financial Assistance office. CODY HAMMER/Osage News

Osage Nation Congressional Speaker Angela Pratt said the application process the COVID-19 Task Force has developed for the CARES Direct Assistance program is needed and justified.

Tribal members 65 and older who can document a necessary COVID caused need are eligible to receive $1,000. Osages under 65, including children, are eligible to receive $500 each. The CARES Direct Assistance is on a first-come, first-served basis. The funding allocated for the program is a little over $10 million.

The policy and application for the assistance was published on July 10 to mixed reactions. Some were upset the application had to be downloaded and notarized before being sent back in. They felt the process made it hard for elders and those without sufficient technology to apply for the assistance. Others felt the entire amount of CARES Act funding given to the Nation, which was a little over $44.9 million, should be entirely distributed to tribal members.

Pratt, who participates in a weekly White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs for National COVID-19 briefing calls, spoke with Dan Kowalski, Counselor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Treasury on July 2. She specifically asked about the Nation’s meatpacking plant first and if that was an allowable expense, and he said yes. Next, she asked about the CARES Direct Assistance.

“He warned of being careful giving payments to individuals that don’t go through a ‘process,’” she wrote. He also warned against “simply dividing the amount of money by the number of tribal members and distributing.”

She is not a proponent for per-capita payments, and she believes the CARES Act funding is an opportunity to build infrastructure for the Nation.

“So, to my Osage people, hang in there! Please grin and bear the process that has been established for the Direct Assistance,” Pratt wrote in a July 14 Facebook post on her personal page. “I’ve paid close attention all of these months and I feel comfortable with the Executive Branch plans and I think they are good. Please remain positive as the negativity adds to everyone’s stress and please appreciate that the process was established for the right reasons.”

For those who plan to apply in person at the Financial Assistance office on the Nation’s campus can get their applications notarized for free.

You can reach CARES Direct Assistance Program staff via:

  • Email: direct-assist@osagenation-nsn.gov
  • Phone: (918) 287-9745
  • Fax: (918) 287-5593
  • Mailing address: 627 Grandview Avenue, Pawhuska, OK 74056
  • Physical address: 239 W 12th Street, Pawhuska, OK 74056