Bad stuff happens, sometimes after 5 p.m. on a Friday and that’s why the Osage Nation is now providing 24-hour support and response for the needs of Osage people. On March 18, the Osage Nation issued a new policy to extend Osage Nation Constituent Services hours of operation to include afterhours and weekends.
“It’s official and we can better serve our Osage constituents,” said Jacque Jones, Program Coordinator, who has been helping provide burial assistance and other emergency assistance to tribal members for more than six years. The emergency needs of tribal members vary greatly from extreme emergency to answering a few simple questions. But for Jones all the questions and concerns from constituents are equally important. That’s why she’s excited about the new policy and a beefed up staff to get things done.
“Now, we have a big enough team to do this,” said Jones who has spent several weekends processing burial assistance and fielding calls to the right people. In order to provide afterhours services the program has developed an on-call schedule for the staff and the appropriate training so staff can direct tribal members in the right direction or immediately process necessary paperwork.
The policy, “After Hours Services” was developed by the Osage Nation Executive Branch and it states, “The Osage government exists to serve the Osage People. For this reason it is the policy of the Constituent Services Program to provide service, in emergency situations, round the clock.”
“[Afterhours service] is really for emergency situations only… maybe an elder suddenly doesn’t have water or heat… in case of a natural disaster… to request burial assistance… and inclement weather needs,” she said. In addition, there are immediate services available for victims of domestic violence and Osages who are suddenly homeless or on the verge can be directed to the nearest immediate services by Constituent Services staff.
The Nation recently extended regular business hours at Constituent Services to 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time in order to accommodate tribal members from other time zones. Jones said the calls during this extended time haven’t increased yet but she believes those calls will increase once tribal members become aware of the changes.
“We’re really excited to be able to offer this service of extended hours and afterhours and be on-call 24/7 because we’re here to help in any way we can,” she said.
To contact Constituent Services about an emergency during regular business hours and afterhours and on weekends call (918) 287-5662 or (800) 320-8742. More information is available at osagenation-nsn.gov.
Geneva HorseChief-Hamilton writes for the Osage Nation Communications Department.