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Entrepreneur hoping to launch tourism business for reservation

May 7, 2015 By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

Fort Washakie resident John Enos is in the process of obtaining a "step-on" license from the Tribal Employment Rights Office.

Fort Washakie entrepreneur John Enos hopes to undertake a new business on the Wind River Indian Reservation with the goal of giving tourists the opportunity to learn about the tribal communities and bring more clients to the Shoshone Rose Casino and Wind River Hotel and Casino.

Enos is starting Warm Valley Native Tours --a tourism business that will allow a tour guide to take visitor to local attractions and businesses on the reservation.

"Tourism is real big in the state of Wyoming," Enos said. "I think it's going to pan out."

His reason to venture into the tourism industry came after he recognized the negative effect the depressed oil and natural gas market can have on communities like those in Fremont County. He encouraged tribal members from the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes to "brainstorm and be innovative" and strive for economic progress.

Enos is in the process of obtaining a "step-on" tourism business license from the Tribal Employment Rights Office. Public comment sessions are a requirement before the license is granted.

A step-on license allows guides to join tourists in their vehicles on a day tour and guide them on a scheduled route to places like St. Stephen's Indian Mission, St. Michael's in Ethete, Sacajawea Cemetery, Washakie Cemetery, gift shops and events like powwows in the summer. Enos stressed that the route will not disclose sacred locations, sweat lodges, ceremonial locations or the Native American Church.

He said he wants the business to improve over time and hopes the community shows its support. He said he did extensive research on a business plan and will receive help from family members.

"It's a learning thing for me," he said. "It has the potential to grow."

If it proves to be successful, Enos said he plans to use a 15-passenger coach bus to give tours.

"If this year goes good then we're going to purchase a bus," he said.

Enos' business will facilitate hotel room bookings as well. Eventually, he wants to connect clients with fishing trips, dude ranches and later add locations such as the Gift of the Waters Indian Pageant in Thermopolis and Castle Gardens.

With the expansions of the Shoshone Rose and Wind River hotels, Enos said his business will help bring new customers, offer more activity packages and serve as an additional source of revenue.

"With the cash flow being down, I think they'd welcome any kind of assistance to make sure their expansions are supplemented with some kinds of income," he said.

Enos is partnering Warm Valley Native Tours with local agencies for insurance, marketing and communication outlets. He's also working with the Small Business Administration and with Paula McCormick of the Wyoming Business Council.

Enos also owns a mobile home park and storage unit in Fort Washakie called the Enos Mobile Home Park TC Storage Units. It contains seven mobile homes and 10 storage units.

To contact Enos and Warm Valley Native Tours, call 330-3232 or e-mail WVnativetours@gmail.com.

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