• Julia Coates

COVID relief payment update

Message from Cherokee Nation Tribal Council member Julia Coates



'Siyo,

There is some good news about the $2000 COVID relief payment offered by the Cherokee Nation with an application deadline of June 1, 2022. Over 313,900 Cherokee Nation citizens have already received this payment, which opened up in June of 2021. But in addition, the Registration office has been overwhelmed with literally tens of thousands of new applications for citizenship and requests for citizenship card replacements, so that additional citizens can apply for the relief payment.

As we approach the application deadline, there are still tens of thousands of these applications that have not been processed and I have been receiving many phone calls and emails in past weeks as people are growing anxious that the deadline will arrive and their application will not have been processed yet.

But there is good news! Last Friday, the Cherokee Nation announced that due to the unprecedented number of applications and replacement card requests, the deadline to apply for the COVID relief payment has been extended by two years to June 1, 2024! This applies only to those who have not already applied and received it, and those who submit a complete application for citizenship or a replacement card request form before June 1, 2022, the original deadline. The two-year extension is to give Registration additional time to process the stacks of applications received without those applicants losing their eligibility for COVID relief because it wasn't fully processed before the deadline passed.

Processing a new application is complex. In the best of times, it may be 3-4 months to complete it, in some part because the application has to go through the Bureau of Indian Affairs so that a CDIB card can be issued. I have seen it take as long as two years in the past when Registration was understaffed, and it is taking considerably longer at this time, even with the addition of more staff, simply because the volume of applications and requests for replacement cards is so staggering.

But the Registration call center recently added about 20 people to field the incoming calls, and last week, an additional 50 people were added as well! This will give you an idea of the volume of inquiries that are being received. So call the Registration number at 918-453-5058 with any inquiries you may have. Your call will be answered during regular business hours.

But most of all, rest assured that those who have submitted applications for citizenship and requests for replacement citizenship cards previous to the June 1, 2022 deadline will remain eligible for the COVID relief payment! So no worries!

Our citizenship has shot up well above 400,000 and will continue to increase as these new applications are processed and approved. We are once again the largest tribe in the country!

Best wishes!

Julia


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