Hot Springs Co. seeks information about land deal

Riverton, Wyoming (AP) February 2011

Hot Springs County commissioners have filed Freedom of Information Act requests to try to get information about a potential Northern Arapaho casino near Thermopolis.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has denied the commissioners access to records about a proposal for the U.S. government to acquire 243 acres to be held in trust for the tribe. Commissioners said they are concerned the land will be used to build a casino.

The federal government denied an initial request to review the tribe’s application and other information about the deal.

The county has sent two FOIA requests to Bureau of Indian Affairs offices in Fort Washakie and Billings, Mont. The county also has hired a law firm to look into the matter.

The Northern Arapaho share the Wind River Indian Reservation south of Thermopolis with the Eastern Shoshone. The Northern Arapaho operate three gambling businesses in neighboring Fremont County and have been building a hotel next to the Wind River Casino outside Riverton.

The commissioners aren’t taking a stance on a casino but want to ensure that the Northern Arapaho work with Hot Springs County to offset any effects a casino would have on the area, said commission chairman John Lumley.

The property is next to the Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway and commissioners worry that a casino might not be consistent with that designation.

Northern Arapaho leaders did not respond to a request for comment.