The United Keetoowah Band Tribal Council has declared a one-time, COVID-19 relief payment will be distributed to all enrolled, exclusive Keetoowah tribal members.
"I am happy to announce the United Keetoowah Band Council has received funding from the CARES Act in the amount of $24 million, and in doing so, have now passed legislation to give current exclusive tribal members an emergency relief payment to offset the costs of COVID-19, or the Coronavirus," said Chief Joe Bunch. "The process will take some time, as exclusive tribal members will be required to update their addresses before payments can begin. The remainder of our CARES funds will be used for programs and governmental development costs related to COVID-19."
A Keetoowah membership card and roll number issued by the Enrollment Office by May 16 is one of the eligibility requirements.
Every exclusive Keetoowah who is 18 years old or over by May 16 will receive $1,500. Exclusive Keetoowah children 17 years old and younger will receive $500 each.
Keetoowah members that are classified as "exclusive" are those that only hold membership with the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma. These members do not hold a membership with any other tribe and their names will only be found on the UKB enrollment list. Some tribal members can be classified as "dual enrolled," meaning that the UKB Enrollment Office has checked the enrollment lists of other tribes and found the member in question to be an enrollee on both, according to Brittney Bennett, UKB media specialist.
"While not illegal, our Enrollment Ordinance does not permit dual enrollment in terms of providing services to members. This is in part to prevent 'double-dipping' of federal funding given to our tribe and that of others," said Bennett. "Most commonly, dual-enrolled members are affiliated with the other two federally recognized Cherokee tribes: the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma."
Those who are unsure if they are an exclusive Keetoowah or suspect they may be dual enrolled can contact the UKB Enrollment Office on Wednesdays or Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at 918-871-2797, or send an email inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
"At this time, the UKB Tribal Council will not be issuing checks to Keetoowahs who are dual enrolled," said Bennett.
The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians Enrollment Office must have members' current contact information.
"This means if you have had a name or address change, you must reach out to us," said Bennett.
The form to update information is available on the UKB website. It can be downloaded then filled out, signed, and returned to the Enrollment office by email, fax, in person, or through a UKB district representative.
Those unable to print the download form can request one to be mailed to them, and once completed, returned to the tribe.
All members receiving a COVID-19 relief payment will be required to fill out a Composite Form and a W-9. It should be marked on the composite form if the check will be picked up in person or if it needs to be mailed. The forms can be downloaded or requested from the Enrollment Office. Those downloading forms are encouraged to use a desktop or laptop computer, as mobile devices may not be equipped to handle the forms.
"These forms need to be completed and signed by you and returned to our office by email, fax, in person or by way of your district representative with the information below," said Bennett. "If you have a child that is eligible, but they are over the age of 18, they will need to complete this paperwork on their own. Parents/guardians cannot legally fill out this information for them."
All forms must be returned to the UKB office. They can be dropped off in the lockbox in front of the Federal Programs Building; by arranging to drop them off to a district representative; by fax to the Enrollment Office at 918-414-4000; scanning the completed forms and emailing as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com; or by mail to P.O. Box 746 Tahlequah, OK 74464.
"The date you turn in these forms will determine when you receive your funds," said Bennett. "Please note, our attorney general is not clear on the tax issues this presents yet. It will be up to each individual tribal member to decide whether to accept this payment given that there may be 'tax consequences.' You may wish to consult with your tax official should you be concerned."
All checks picked up in person will require a signature. Those who return their forms June 5-11 will be able to pick them up on Friday, June 19, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., at the UKB Peace Pavilion. Directional signs will be posted.
"We ask that if you pick up your check in person, please be kind to everyone by practicing safe social distancing of 6-feet apart and wearing a mask," said Bennett. "Tables will be set up for members to find their checks by the first letter of their last name."
If there is inclement weather that Friday, check pickup will be held at the Wellness Center.
"If you have arranged to pick up your check in person, but are sick or showing symptoms, please contact our Enrollment Office at 918-871-2797 to make mailing arrangements instead," said Bennett.
For forms returned June 12-18, relief payments can be picked up on Friday, June 26, at the same times and location as the previous date. Those who return forms June 19-24 can pick up checks Thursday, July 2, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., at the UKB Wellness Center. The last opportunity for a check to be mailed or picked up will be July 10.
Find all the information about the UKB COVID-19 relief payment, including downloadable forms, at https://www.ukb-nsn.gov/covid-19-payment. For additional questions or concerns, contact UKB Enrollment at 918-871-2797.