NORTHEAST OKLAHOMA – In less than a month, thousands of northeast Oklahoma students will be returning to school.

Skyrocketing fuel and grocery prices have put a wrinkle in back-to-school spending for most families.

Thirty-seven percent of parents plan to spend more than last year, which will result in an 8% annual increase, amounting to $661 per child versus $612 in 2021, according to Deloitte Survey Research and Analytics Center.

“Back to school time is hard,” said Lindsey Waggoner, of Vinita, who is not a tribal member.

Waggoner said she purchases a maximum of two new outfits for each of her four children over the summer for back to school and then buys new clothes and shoes as needed throughout the year.

Another $150 is spent per child, she said.

“Backpacks and lunch boxes get used for at least two years,” Waggoner said.  

Rosey Parsons has been homeschooling her son for six years and spends well over $500 a year.

“We are not tribal though two out of three of our children are Cherokee, so they receive JOM supplies and the $150 card,” Parsons said.  “After that, I still spend close to $800 for the remaining supplies needed, clothing and shoes.”

The Johnson O’Malley Indian Education Program Services helps with basic school supplies.

Oklahoma offers a tax-free weekend the first weekend in August to help offset the costs of clothes and the state’s American Indian tribes also help out with clothing vouchers, school supplies, and backpack giveaways.

Here is a sample listing of some of the tribe’s back-to-school programs.

Cherokee Nation offers a $150 clothing voucher for students from birth up through college and career tech – up to age 22, making it the largest clothing assistance program in Cherokee history.

There are no residency restrictions or income guidelines for the program. Applicants must be a Cherokee Nation citizen as of July 7.  Proof of high school, college or career tech enrollment will be required for applicants ages 19 to 22.

Cherokee Nation Human Services will accept applications for the school clothing assistance program until July 29 at 5 p.m.

Quapaw Nation enrolled tribal members with children in grades kindergarten through 12th grade are eligible to receive a one-time check to help with school clothes and supplies.

Students from Kindergarten through the fifth grade are eligible to receive a $250 voucher, students in sixth through eighth grade can receive $300, and students in grades ninth through 12th grade are eligible for $350.

The Peoria Tribe offers a $500 reimbursement program for students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade for enrolled tribal members.   

Miami Nation awards funds twice a year.

Pre-School students, minimum 4 years old, are eligible for a $50 voucher, kindergarten through the 6th grade, $75; 7th and 8th grade, $100 and 9th through 12th grade, $150.