Drugs, Alcohol Worsening Problems for Seminoles

AP, September 28, 2008

The average age at death among Seminole Indians in Florida has dropped by 12 years in the past decade, according to a newspaper analysis, to below age 50.

Figures obtained by the South Florida Sun Sentinel show 11 of the tribe’s 17 recorded deaths in 2008 have been related to drugs or alcohol. Further, the average age of a Seminole at death has dropped from nearly 60 in 1997 to 48 in 2007.

That’s well below the average age statewide of 73 years old.

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Some suggested the tribe’s staggering wealth, earned from its gaming operations, have left young members without life balance. The tribe provides each member a free education, guaranteed job and an income of roughly $120,000 a year.

Zena Simmons, a 24-year-old Seminole and Florida Atlantic student, said she sees a correlation between the money and excess. So does her sister, 29-year-old Thomasine Jumper, who is now jailed for drug and traffic offenses in Collier County.

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