Family Assistance

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General Assistance

The General Assistance program is funded through the Bureau of Indian Affairs and administered through Human Services in the Family Assistance Department.


This program is a financial assistance service for eligible Indian families to address essential living needs.  Assistance is based on welfare payment standards and is considered a secondary resource to the Department of Human Services TANF program and Social Security SSI program.  Families who are eligible for TANF and SSI are required by federal regulations to apply and comply with their guidelines and requirements.


When families are not eligible for the General Assistance program or any other program within Family Assistance, then they are referred to other agencies.  The Family Advocates are social workers who work closely with other agencies on a daily basis to keep updated with their programs, eligibility guidelines and availability of funds. Referrals may be made to other agencies by sending a referral form to the other agency on behalf of the family. Family Assistance Offices and hours of operation are listed in a downloadable document at the bottom of this page


To be eligible for this program, families must meet eligibility standards developed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (CFR 25, Part 20). The basic eligibility is as follows:


1.     Must be a citizen of a federally-recognized tribe.

2.     Live within the Cherokee Nation jurisdiction for the past six months.

3.     Not have sufficient resources to meet the essential living needs.

4.     Additional eligibility criteria could be required based upon family situation.

5.     Cannot receive General Assistance from another tribe concurrently while receiving General Assistance from the Cherokee Nation.  Documentation is required for all eligibility elements before assistance can be rendered.

Tribal Emergency Assistance (TEA)

In 2004, the Human Services Group/Health Services was allocated funds from the Cherokee Nation Council to administer an Emergency Assistance program.  This program was designed for families whose needs or request cannot be met through any other resource/program.

The program in Human Services was designed and approved by the council to assist families in the time of imminent need. Imminent need is defined as basic needs of an individual or family that if not addressed immediately within 24-48 hrs. or less may result in hunger, loss of shelter, medical peril, job loss or family breakdown.

The program in Health Services was designed to help those with medical emergencies for transportation, lodging and related costs, medication, medical equipment or supplies. 


An applicant must meet all the following criteria before an emergency assistance payment can be processed for the household.


1.     A household applying for assistance must have at least one member that is a Cherokee Nation citizen. If, however, the family has already received assistance from another tribe, the family will be referred back to that tribe for further assistance.

2.     Applicants live within the Cherokee Nation jurisdiction.

3.     Household income may not exceed income eligibility standards developed by the Cherokee Nation.

4.     Applicants must not qualify for, or have exhausted eligibility for other services from existing Cherokee Nation programs or any federal, state, local or other tribe’s resources and/or programs.


This program is requested through the Family Advocates in each area and can only be accessed one time.  All applications are approved by a Manager in each department and final approval is through Human Services Executive Director.     

Burial Assistance

The Cherokee Nation currently administers a burial assistance program funded through the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Cherokee Nation. This 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 shall make available two (2) 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 Cherokee Nation. This program is not an entitlement program, meaning that being a citizen of the Cherokee Nation or any other federally recognized tribe does not automatically make a person eligible for benefits under this program. 


1.     The deceased must be a citizen of a federally-recognized tribe, verified by a tribal citizenship card (a blue card for Cherokee Nation citizens). A white CDIB card is not proof of citizenship and will not be accepted.

2.     The deceased must have been a resident of the Cherokee Nation jurisdiction for six months prior to date of death.

3.     The deceased and his or her immediate family many not have resources (life insurance, veteran’s benefits, cash, savings accounts, etc.) exceeding $2,500.00.

4.     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.  For example:  For a household of two, income cannot exceed $2,003.00 for the previous month or $24,030.00 for the past twelve months.

5.     The family must select a funeral home included on the list of those having an active burial contract with the Cherokee Nation.  (See the downloadable document found at the bottom of this page). 


1.     Residential verification that the deceased has lived within the Cherokee Nation jurisdiction for the past six months. The document must verify the physical location of the residence (utility bill or a rent receipt with the physical location listed), Department of Humans Service statement, statement from a nursing home, 911 statements or any other document including a physical address.

2.     Tribal Citizenship card (a white CDIB card will not be accepted as proof of tribal citizenship).

3.     Proof of income for the previous twelve months for the deceased and his or her immediate family.  Verification documents include, but are not limited to:  pay stubs, copies of benefit checks if they cover the previous twelve months, benefit award letters, etc.

4.     Proof of all available financial resources including but not limited to:  bank statements, savings account statements, life insurance police, veterans benefits statements, etc.

5.     Social Security Card

This option is restricted to eligible Cherokee Nation Tribal Citizens and if selected, the service will be paid in full (less any available family resources) by the Cherokee Nation, totally eliminating the eligible family of any financial burden normally associated with funeral expense.


This service is very limited and cannot be altered in any way. The service shall provide at minimum a 20 gage steel casket, concrete outer container/grave liner (non-biodegradable), tent and cemetery set up, memorial package, one death certificate, burial notice in local paper and the traditional professional service provide by the contracted funeral home conducting the service.

If an eligible family selects any type of cremation, the funeral home will explain the contracted options available to the family and if services are within the contract, this service will also be paid in full.        

This option is for any eligible family where the deceased is not a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, but is a citizen of another federally-recognized tribe. The eligible family can select any funeral service the funeral home will sell them and the Cherokee Nation will pay a one-time maximum payment of $2,800.00 (minus available resources). The family will be totally responsible for all costs above this amount. The family must meet income, resource and residential requirements for this service.

This option will also be made available to eligible Cherokee Nation Tribal citizens that may have family members (not living in the deceased immediate household) that wish to upgrade the contracted service identified in Option #1. The eligible Cherokee family can select any service the funeral home will sell them and the Cherokee Nation will make the one-time payment in the amount of $2,800.00 (less available resources) and the family will be totally responsible for paying the balance.


Many funeral homes have active contracts with the Cherokee Nation to provide all services outlined in Option #1 and Option #2 identified above. If the family selects a funeral home that is not listed in the downloadable document found at the bottom of this page, please contact one of the Cherokee Nation offices. This list is always being updated.   

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Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

The Low Income Home Energy (LIHEAP) Assistance Program is funded by the State’s Department of Health & Human Services and administered by the Cherokee Nation Family Assistance Department.

The LIHEAP Program is an Energy Assistance Program designed to assist low income Indian households with home heating, cooling, and crisis intervention assistance. LIHEAP services include Residential Heating Assistance. This program provides assistance to eligible households for their primary source of heating, including wood, wood pellets, natural gas, propane, electric (total electric homes), kerosene, and coal.

Benefits are calculated according to the amount of income, energy source, and family size to assure the highest level of payment will be provided to households with the lowest income and highest energy source, taking into consideration family size.  The benefit payment will be paid directly to the energy supplier/vendor.

Applicants 60 years of age & older or disabled will be given priority service. All other eligible households will be assisted as funds permit.

Summer Cooling
When funds are available, the elderly and disabled households are assisted with electric expenses associated with Summer Cooling.  

Crisis Intervention
Under the LIHEAP program a Crisis Intervention Program for assistance can be given to families who have experienced hardship and are in jeopardy of getting their utilities turned off or have already had a cut-off.  This is a one-time assistance payment, paid directly to the vendor.  This program usually starts in from January and runs till the middle of February.  The payment standard is based on need and cannot exceed $250.00.

Emergency Housing Assistance

Since February of 1999, Human Services has had a program to help address homelessness in Cherokee Nation.  This program is funded by HUD through the Native American Housing and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA).

The program’s primary focus is keeping families safe and in secure housing.  Assistance is always made to the landlord or mortgage facility and in some cases utility companies.  This assistance is a one time payment to the vendor and payment is based on the family’s need and their ability to remain self sufficient.  The family’s income cannot exceed the current HUD income guidelines and the family must have sufficient income to maintain their housing.  A family can only receive service in this category once in a three year period of time.  

Priority is given to assist those that are:

1. Currently living in shelters

2. Homeless families or individuals living on the streets or in cars.

3. Recent disasters such as burnouts, total loss of a home due to flood, fire or tornado.

4. Elderly persons

5. Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare cases

6. Families residing in overcrowded conditions.

7. Families living in Cherokee Nation or state-subsidized housing and are at risk of becoming homeless.

School Clothing Voucher Program

The Cherokee Nation Clothing Voucher Program is funded through the Tribal Council and has been implemented through Human Services since 2006. The overall goal of this program is to assist families with back to school expenses by providing financial assistance for school clothes for the children’s first day school.




1.     Student MUST be a Cherokee Nation Citizen.

2.     Student and family must live within the Cherokee Nation jurisdictional area.

3.     Student must be in grades K-12 for the upcoming school year.

4.     You must bring proof of school enrollment for each child.

5.     Kindergarten students must be age 5 before September 1, 2017.

6.     You must bring a current utility bill, not older than 30 days, that shows your physical address or service address.

7.     Application must be made by custodial parent or legal guardian and must show ID.

8.     Guardians must bring letters of guardianship issued by a district court.

9.     You must bring verification of income for everyone in the household.


PLEASE NOTE: State home school is not eligible for the program.


The link in the Downloads section below opens a school clothing flyer that identifies a calendar for you to locate a site nearest to you for the application process and the income guidelines are included. 


For more information please call:


Angela King, Program Manager - 918-453-5266

Renee Studie, Certification Supervisor 918-453-5017

Michelle Keys, Program Assistant - 918-453-5346

Lee Robbins, Program Assistant - 918-453-5231



Elder Services

Elder Services seeks to provide a comprehensive coordinated system of supportive and nutritional services to older Indian participants with the goal of improving the quality of life for Indian elders residing within the Cherokee Nation jurisdiction.

Nutrition services are available at 12 community senior nutrition sites. These sites are listed in a downloadable document at the bottom of this page. Each site provides an Indian Elder (age 50+) and their spouse an opportunity for a nutritious meal and to participate in recreational activities which are planned by the elder participants.  Meals are free for eligible participants; however participants may be asked if possible to make a donation for center operation.  Non-eligible participants must pay for their meals. 

For those eligible participants who are homebound, home-delivered meals are available.  A doctor’s statement is required for home delivered meal participants.

Participants must be American Indian, Alaskan Native, or Native Hawaiian. No income guidlines apply and the program is not restricted to the Cherokee Nation boundaries but is available in all participating nutrition sites.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Cherokee Nation Tribal Citizenship
  • Within 14 county Jurisdictional area
  • Income Guidelines

General Contact (918)-453-5000 OR 1-800-256-0671