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Osage Congress approves $450,000 for burial assistance fund


Benny Polacca

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 The Constituent Services website contains forms and information on burial assistance and other office services at:

Original Publish Date: 2017-10-24 00:00:00

Benny Polacca

Title: Senior Reporter


Instagram: @bpolacca

Topic Expertise: Government, Tribal Government, Community

Languages spoken: English, basic knowledge of Spanish and French

Benny Polacca (Hopi/ Havasupai/ Pima/ Tohono O’odham) started working at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter in Pawhuska, Okla., where he’s covered various stories and events that impact the Osage Nation and Osage people. Those newspaper contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics and issues from tribal government matters to features. As a result, Polacca has gained an immeasurable amount of experience in covering Native American affairs, government issues and features so the Osage readership can be better informed about the tribal current affairs the newspaper covers.

Polacca is part of the Osage News team that was awarded the Native American Journalists Association's Elias Boudinet Free Press Award in 2014 and has won numerous NAJA media awards, as well as awards from the Oklahoma Press Association and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter, for storytelling coverage and photography.

Polacca earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and also participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota where he was introduced to the basics of journalism and worked with seasoned journalists there and later at The Forum daily newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. area where he worked as the weeknight reporter.


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