Human Services

17675 S. Muskogee Ave. Tahlequah, OK 74464

Burial Assistance Program

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 member 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 member of a federally-recognized tribe, verified by a tribal membership card (a blue card for Cherokee Nation citizens). A white CDIB card is not proof of membership and will not be accepted.
  2. The deceased must have been a resident of the Cherokee Nation jurisdiction for six months prior to the date of death.
  3. The deceased and his or her immediate family may not have resources (life insurance, veteran’s benefits, cash, savings accounts, etc.) exceeding $3,500.00.
  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 $2,289.00 for the previous month or $27,465.00 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). 

Documents Required to Apply

  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, a statement from a nursing home, 911 statements or any other document including a physical address.
  2. Tribal Membership card (a white CDIB card will not be accepted as proof of tribal membership).
  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 policy, veterans benefits statements, etc.
  5. Social Security Card or proof of social security number.


  • Participating Funeral Homes
    A list of participating funeral homes that work with the Burial Assistance program.