John St. Clair, Chairman, Eastern Shoshone Tribe

John St. Clair, Chairman
Eastern Shoshone Tribe
Shoshone Rose Casino in Lander, WY

CHALLENGES/OPPORTUNITIES: The Eastern Shoshone Tribe, just like everyone around the globe, had to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic last year and still to this day. One of the biggest challenges for the tribe was having to shut down its operations and businesses, including the Shoshone Rose Casino & Hotel, one of the tribe’s biggest revenue generators.

Like many tribal nations throughout the country, the Shoshone Tribe depends on their enterprises to manage their resources and assets and to bring in much needed revenue to the tribe and community. Closing the casino and hotel posed a major threat to the tribe but a new opportunity emerged when the tribe was able to plan for a reopening in 2021.

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community agreed to negotiate the terms of a one-year forbearance agreement with the Shoshone Tribe on the Shoshone Rose Casino. The Shoshone Tribe took this as an opportunity to review the long term needs, viability and operations of the casino and hotel. Staff went to work and prepared for a “new and improved” reopening plan.  

Out of a challenge came a new opportunity and the Shoshone Tribe is hopeful and looking forward to the success of the casino.

KEY TO SUCCESS: A major key for the casino’s success has been the collaborative effort with the Shakopee Tribe. Renegotiations were instrumental in bringing things back to somewhat normal considering the pandemic. Proper planning and diligent decision-making among tribal leaders were other major components of the casino’s success. Our gaming industry suffers if we don’t give it the attention it needs. 

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT: One of our biggest economic development projects is the Eastern Shoshone Business Park (ESBP) in Riverton, which is located only 33 miles from Shoshone tribal headquarters. ESBP is a 304-acre planned mixed use development incorporating retail, commercial, residential, office, industrial, event development, and open space that will provide the City of Riverton, Fremont County, and the surrounding area, with much-needed goods and services over time. It is envisioned that development of the site will occur in multiple phases over a period of many years. Roads and utilities have already been constructed to accommodate new business ventures and housing opportunities.

The Circle Ridge Field is our latest economic development endeavor. The Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes have officially taken over the Circle Ridge Field on the Wind River Reservation after decades of leasing it. Finally taking over full ownership is a recent culmination of weekly meetings and failed attempts at renegotiating the oil and gas lease with Merit, who had owned the lease for three years after purchasing it from Marathon Oil Company in 2016. If oil prices continue to rise in the next months and years, both tribes are projected to see an increase in royalties, revenue and subsequently per capita payments to its tribal members. The tribes hired a new operator, who then hired tribal members and are offering full training. The Shoshone Tribe is excited to finally see this field running again as it is the tribe’s biggest oil and gas field. Owning the field entirely has been a vision of past tribal leaders for decades.