By Clair McFarland, General Assignment Reporter
Despite decades of “dry” status on the Wind River Indian Reservation, a tribal government now seeks a county liquor license for its casino.
Following allegations that there was alcohol present during events at the Shoshone Rose Casino, the Eastern Shoshone Tribe has sought and received a blank application for a Fremont County liquor license, but has not yet turned it in.
The Wind River Indian Reservation is known to be dry, or typically without alcohol sales, though U.S. Supreme Court case law holds that establishments on reservations can sell alcohol if they conform to state and tribal laws regarding alcohol sales.
Wyoming law requires a county license, while Shoshone tribal law may require a vote of approval from tribal members.
If the tribe applies for and is granted a liquor license for its casino, it would be the only place on the reservation to sell alcohol legally.
Alcohol Up Here
The Fremont County Commission in December sent both the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribal governments a letter alleging that the Shoshone Rose Casino had hosted an event with alcohol.
“It appears that at the Shoshone Rose Casino, there was an event taking place where alcohol was in the facility,” reads the letter from the county Commission, “We are unclear if the alcohol was for sale or was used as an enticement for patrons to participate.”
Eastern Shoshone leadership declined to comment to Cowboy State Daily about the letter, saying it was addressed to the governmental body of both tribes. The Northern Arapaho Tribe said it would comment since the controversy did not involve its establishments.
The commission in its letter said that any tribe wanting to sell alcohol must apply for a county liquor license.
“Entities that hold or allow the sale or use of any alcohol without the proper license can and does (sic) hold the event holder to civil and criminal liability should anyone be harmed in any way,” the letter states.
Not On The Agenda Yet
Commission secretary Becky Enos on Friday told Cowboy State Daily that the Shoshone tribe is not yet on the county’s meeting agenda to request a liquor license, but has received a blank application.
Once, and if, the tribal government submits its application, the commission is required by law to advertise a public hearing on the application for two consecutive issues of the local newspaper of record.
Then a public hearing can be held.
Commissioner Mike Jones told Cowboy State Daily in December that he believed the tribe had approved an alcohol distribution application for its casino.
“The casino (is) saying we’ve passed this – the tribe is going to allow this,” said Jones. “The casino is coming to us now for a permanent permit and asking for a resort license, which would not allow packaged sales, just the sale of alcohol to customers.”