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Big settlement checks arrive for Arapahos; Shoshones to get theirs in a few more days

Apr 24, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Oil and gas settlement checks for Northern Arapaho tribal members began arriving in Fremont County this week. One immediate effect was an uptick in trade at local businesses.

Those spending money from their checks were excited for their purchases.

Amelia Shakespeare was at Mark's Auto Sales on Federal Boulevard on Wednesday afternoon to pay off her car, she said.

"With what I have left, I'm going to fix my car up, new tires, air conditioning, get it tuned up," she said through a grin.

The used car lot had been busy since 9 a.m., Mark Miller said. Normally a mechanic and tow truck operator, Miller was helping with sales that day.

He estimated the business had sold about 50 vehicles by mid-afternoon. Many cars were still left on the lot, but about half were marked "sold" already, and gaps between vehicles showed where others had stood earlier that day.

"The lot was pretty full when we started," Miller said.

Northern Arapaho Tribe members were expected to receive about $6,300 apiece. Eastern Shoshone Tribe members out and about Wednesday said they expected their checks to be larger and to arrive next week. The estimated payout for Shoshones is $13,000 apiece.

The money comes from a lawsuit between the two tribes and the U.S. Government originally filed in 1979.

The lawsuit alleged some leases for oil and gas on the Wind River Indian Reservation were unlawfully converted from status under the Act of Aug. 21, 1916 to status under the Indian Mineral Leasing Act. As a result, the tribes were not able to collect as much in royalties or to obtain as favorable lease-renewal terms as they could have.

Business was also brisk at Hammer Electronics further north on Federal.

"For this time of year, it's been quite a bit busier than normal," marketing director Russ Harper said.

The store had a full staff working on Wednesday to accommodate the increase in trade. Products from across the store were popular, Harper said.

All of the stories cell-phone sales kiosks but one were busy at about 3:30 p.m., and other clerks checked out customers buying televisions and other electronics at other counters.

Increased law enforcement presences was obvious around the city on Wednesday and Thursday. Local officials expressed concern about the sudden influx of money, much of it taken in cash, in the community.