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Arapahos vow to keep growing as gaming tribe
Arapahoe Legion Post 84 member Jerry Headley bowed his head during the opening prayer given by Nelson White at the microphone during Friday's grand opening celebration for the Wind River Casino Hotel. Ronnie Oldman was the event's master of ceremonies. Photo by Martin Reed

Arapahos vow to keep growing as gaming tribe

Mar 9, 2012 - By Martin Reed, Staff Writer

With the Wind River Casino Hotel celebrating its grand opening Friday, Northern Arapaho Business Council member Norman Willow Sr. was quick to point out the reason for the tribe's gaming business.

"It's here for you. It's here for your families," Willow told the crowd gathered in the casino's entertainment room for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"That was the intention, to provide for their families, to improve their lives," he said.

Willow and others spoke during the ceremony for the new 90-room hotel connected to the tribe's flagship casino located about a mile south of Riverton.

The tribe's latest development represents an ongoing intent to expand gaming operations to benefit tribal members, Business Council chairman Jim Shakespeare said.

"We're going to continue to keep growing as a tribe and as a gaming tribe," Shakespeare said.

He credited lobbyist Mark Howell for his work to get gaming for the Northern Arapaho Tribe. "He fought the fight for us to get to this point," Shakespeare said, adding he is honored to serve with him.

Business Council member Lydell Whiteplume said he used to work for the casino for about seven years. "This is a dream for some of our Arapaho people, for jobs," he said.

Wind River Casino chief executive officer Jim Conrad said the tribe's gaming operation creates a bond in the community. "One of the great things about this casino is it does bring us all together," he said.

"I think for our community and our valley it's one of the greatest things that could happen," Conrad said.

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