Alcohol And Drugs Among Seminole Youth Despite $120K Incomes
BIG CYPRESS, FL. -- For young members of the Seminole Tribe, this should be the best of times. With annual revenues from casinos and other businesses that have topped $1.4 billion, the tribe provides each of its 3,300 members with an income of about $120,000 a year, a free education and a guaranteed job.
And many college-educated Seminoles are coming home to work in the tribe's Hollywood headquarters. Despite these positive developments, young Seminoles die at an alarming rate from drug overdoses, alcohol-involved car crashes and suicide.
Of 17 Seminole deaths recorded so far in 2008, 11 or about 65% have been linked to drug or alcohol abuse, according to figures obtained by the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. Most of those who have died this year never reached their 40th birthday.
Among the fatalities were the 27-year-old daughter of Tribal Councilman David Cypress, killed in an April car crash, and James Girtman, 22, who died of a gunshot suicide in January in Okeechobee.