The Shoshone Rose Casino has become increasingly central to the economy of the Eastern Shoshone people of the Wind River Indian Reservation, and it is hoped the recently completed renovation will provide the wider region with a much-needed boost.
Home to two tribal groups, more populous Northern Arapaho tribe and the previously mentioned Eastern Shoshone, the Wind River Indian Reservation is the seventh largest in the United States, and perhaps the most geographically isolated. Located in the middle of Wyoming, a vast state by America’s smallest by population, Wind River has a total population of 40,237, of which 8,177 are Arapaho and only 3,737 are Shoshone.
As the smaller tribe in an area where Native American’s are already a minority, the Eastern Shoshone could easily find themselves economically disadvantaged. Mining royalties had been a primary source of income until recently, bringing in between $20-30 million annually by some reports, but the recent crash in commodity prices has hit the tribe hard. The Shoshone Rose, which was originally opened nine years ago, is for many the best hope for economic growth.
Refurbishment and expansion
Now that a new, larger version of the Shoshone Rose is open there is a chance those hopes could be realised. Speaking to the Casper Star-Tribune, the casino’s new general manager Sheila Matt said, “In the smaller casino 80 percent of our business came from within a 20-mile radius. We really want to hit the Rock Springs market, the Casper market.”
The new casino features a sixty-one room hotel which includes several unique features, including art from tribal artists, and bathtubs with water jets. It also employs 131 workers, roughly half of which are enrolled Eastern Shoshone tribal members.
Hopes for growth are also lifted because of the increased fights to nearby Riverton airport. “We’re going to be able to bring conferences from all over,” explained Matt.
But the airport will also help the three other casinos on the reservation, all of which are run by the larger Northern Arapaho tribe: the Wind River Casino, the Little Wind Casino, and the 789 Smoke Shop & Casino.
In order to recoup the costs of the expansion and renovation, the Shoshone Rose will need to attract first-time visitors from a wider areas than previously. If this plan works, the Eastern Shoshone will find the slump in oil and mineral prices a lot easier to bear.