Health

Osage Nation opens second round of applications for CARES Act direct assistance

Photo caption: Osage tribal members utilize a drive-thru application process for the second round of CARES Act Direct Assistance on Oct. 15 in Pawhuska. CODY HAMMER/Osage News

Starting Oct. 15, the Osage Nation is accepting a second round of applications from enrolled Osages to receive up to $1,200 in direct assistance due to hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The direct assistance will be issued up to $1,200 in paper check form to each approved applicant on a first-come, first-served basis until the funding is depleted or Nov. 30, 2020, according to Andrea Kemble, a member of the Nation’s COVID Task Force. The Nation’s Financial Assistance Department will be accepting the applications from Osage individuals who have demonstrated a COVID-19-caused hardship.  

Earlier this year as the COVID-19 pandemic continued in the United States, the Nation received federal funding payments from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. In total, the Nation received a little over $44 million. A COVID Task Force comprised of ON employees developed a narrative on how the money will be spent and a final implementation plan that was updated on July 7, which includes individual Osage payments.

On Oct. 14, the Nation announced the second round opportunity to apply for direct assistance on its website and social media. Applications and additional details can be found online at: https://www.osagenation-nsn.gov/member-services/covid-assistance

The Financial Assistance Department notes that a revised application form is being used, so the application used in the first round is now void. In the first round, the Nation provided direct assistance up to $1,000 to elder applicants age 65 and older and $500 to Osages younger than 65, but all Osages will be eligible to apply for the increased maximum amount in the second round.

“We have increased the amount of assistance – Each Osage member can receive up to $1,200 regardless of age,” according to the Nation’s website.

For the second round of direct assistance, Osages eligible to apply must be enrolled members as of July 1, 2020; must certify their essential needs and experienced hardship; and must submit the completed second application with a notarized signature.

An online executive statement on the CARES Act direct assistance states: “The COVID-19 virus is rapidly spreading and causing illness and death throughout the United States. Members of the Osage Nation are vulnerably unprepared to face this health threat, and have experienced financial hardships as second-order effects of the Public Health Emergency. It is the policy of the Osage Nation to assist tribal members who are struggling to meet individual essential needs and/or experiencing unforeseen increased expenses, as a result of the global pandemic. The Osage Nation defines essential needs to include: personal protective equipment, affordable and adequate food, and unmet health /medical needs. The Osage Nation defines necessary expenditures to include: expenses to prevent eviction or foreclosure, expenses to operate household utilities, expenses to telework, expenses to complete educational distant learning programs, and childcare expenses for essential workers during the pandemic. To assist tribal members, the Osage Nation will provide emergency assistance, directly to the enrolled member or the legal guardian of an enrolled tribal member.”

The Financial Assistance Department will confirm applicants’ Osage membership status and will notify applicants of their approval or denial via mail or email. If an applicant is determined to be ineligible for assistance, the individual may appeal the decision, which will be forwarded to the Director of Operations Office in the Executive Branch, according to the website.

The CARES Act Direct Assistance Program staff can be reached at:

- Email: direct-assist@osagenation-nsn.gov

- Phone: (918) 287-9745

- Fax: (918) 287-5670

- Mailing address: 627 Grandview Avenue, Pawhuska, OK 74056

- Physical address: 239 W 12th Street, Pawhuska, OK 74056