How the Seminole Native American Tribe From Florida Benefits From the “Children’s Trust Fund”
Many Americans may not know this, but the Native Americans living in the Southern reserves have an extremely advantageous benefit once they graduate high school. This especially applies to the Seminoles who are generally located around Fort Lauderdale and Chokoloskee in Southern Florida.
This benefit is called the “Children’s Trust Fund,” but it is mostly referred to as “18 money” by young people. The trust fund began in the mid-1990s after local tribes had acquired permission from the government to hold monopolies on gaming activities.
In the beginning, the trust fund would pay high school graduates around $17,000 for simply graduating from school. The funds were designed to enable these young people to go out and get a higher education and become professionals in their fields. It was believed that if the individual graduate came from one of the tribes located in Florida or Oklahoma, they would get an additional 10 percent added to their payment, but that was quickly debunked by the Seminole tribe.
Nowadays, thanks to the massive growth in profitability of these gaming operations, a tribe member can expect around $200,000 to be given to them after graduation. Mind you, this is before tax.
Was this effective?
A survey was conducted to speak with some of the “18 money” receivers after a couple of years, and it turned out that not all of them are satisfied with how they went about spending it. Around 40 percent of the interviewees came from the Seminole tribe, notorious for holding most of the few Indian reservation casinos in Florida and Oklahoma, as well as locations in Texas around Dallas.
More than 93 percent of the interviewees said that they regretted the way they had spent the money and wished they used it for things like investments and college tuitions. Most of the graduates went ahead and got cars, went on a luxurious vacation and overspent their funds nearly every day.
Before they realized it, the funds were gone and they were left with nothing. Most say that it was due to childish recklessness and that the funds need to be provided once somebody is much more mature.
Does this happen elsewhere?
There are no exact records of such funds existing in the world, but there is one very similar fund in Australia. The fund focuses on gathering unclaimed winnings by casino players and depositing it for safekeeping for any law that could be passed sometime in the future.
According to local reports, after playing online casino games in Australia, some of the winnings are either deductible or cannot be collected due to some restrictions or rule violations.
The funds are then not given back to the casino but kept for safekeeping. If a law similar to the one that Native American tribes hold is passed in Australia, it may actually be dedicated toward the Australian natives and their safekeeping in a booming economy.
However, for the Aussies, it would be much easier to maintain this law due to the case studies from the US. Large funds, that a person has never held before, need to be accompanied by proper financial education or else it will do them much more harm than good.