Eastern Shoshone Tribe Museum community meeting on May 7

    (Fort Washakie, WY) – The Eastern Shoshone Tribe is holding a community meeting on Tuesday, May 7, starting at 4 p.m. in the Frank B. Wise Center to get ideas and hear recent updates about the planning of a new museum. The event includes a community meal and cedaring.

    Current museum

    The Eastern Shoshone Tribe currently operates the Eastern Shoshone Tribal Cultural Center, which is located within the Fort Washakie Elementary School at 90 Ethete Rd.

    “This center serves as a place for preserving and sharing our culture and is free and open to the public,” shared Alejandra Robinson, Archives Manager for the EST. “However, there are severe limitations to being housed in the school including operating hours and public access. The need for a new cultural educational center and the museum also arises from a desire to expand and enhance our capabilities to preserve and showcase our rich heritage more effectively with the tribal members and greater public, include a new Archive, and integrate the Eastern Shoshone Tribal Historic Preservation Office into one centralized location that we’re currently calling a ‘Cultural Hub’. This will allow us to better serve our community and visitors with enriched educational and cultural experiences.”


    A new museum

    “The idea of establishing a new museum has been explored intermittently since the late 1970s and early 1980s,” explained Robinson. “There have been several planning phases and attempts in the past, including in the 1990s and more seriously in 2006 after the Shoshone General Council passed a proposal to explore this initiative. However, due to staff turnover, these initial planning efforts were abandoned at that time.  Recently, the Shoshone Business Council has renewed efforts towards this project by bringing on a professional fundraiser, Liz Kinne with Grant Pro Group, signaling a strong commitment to finally bringing this vision to life.”

    Members currently working on the “Cultural Hub” include: Robinson, Sierra Coando (Archives Assistant) Liz Kinne (Grant Pro Group), Robyn Rofkar and Zeedora Enos (ES Cultural Center), John Washakie (SBC), Lynette St. Clair (linguist, cultural preservationist, former educator), Josh Mann (Eastern Shoshone Tribal Historic Preservation Office), and Curtis Barney (ESTHPO/tribal elder).

    A location for the “Cultural Hub” has not been finalized at this time.

    “While specific details on the location are still under discussion, we are considering options that would place the ‘Cultural Hub’ within a central and accessible area for all our Ft. Washakie, Wyoming community members,” Robinson noted. “We are actively seeking input from the community to ensure that the location meets the needs and aspirations of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe.”



    “The funding strategy for the new ‘Cultural Hub’ includes a comprehensive plan to seek grants to initiate this work, and eventually, a multi-million dollar capital campaign will be executed to secure the funding needed to construct and operate the new Cultural Hub,” Robinson shared. “In 2023, the Tribe successfully won two national and highly competitive grants to help kick-off this new initiative.

    “National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Preservation Assistance Grant: This $10,000 grant enabled the Archive and Cultural Center to bring in a conservator and preservation expert, Beverly Perkins of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West located in Cody, Wyoming, to assess the current state of the Archive and Cultural Center and make recommendations on the operations, artifacts and other preservation efforts needed to safeguard the items that these departments hold. The outcomes from this assessment are vital in justifying the need for enhanced preservation facilities, which will likely be a critical component of the proposed new museum. This grant aids in safeguarding cultural heritage by ensuring proper preservation practices and infrastructure are in place.

      “National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design Initiative: The Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) initiative by the NEA focuses on empowering rural communities to leverage local cultural and natural resources for sustainable economic development through design solutions. For the Eastern Shoshone, this initiative has provided expert advice, and the forthcoming community engagement workshop, on how to best to conceptually design the new Cultural Hub to reflect the tribe’s heritage and aspirations while promoting community engagement and tourism. This initiative supports the tribe’s goals by facilitating design practices that enhance the community’s quality of life and economic vitality through cultural preservation.  At the end of the year-long process, the Tribe will have its first pre-schematic, conceptual design of the new Cultural Hub.


      “National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town Grant:  The Our Town program supports projects that integrate arts, culture, and design activities into efforts that strengthen communities by advancing local economic, physical, and/or social outcomes. The Eastern Shoshone Tribe was awarded a $50,000 grant for phase 2 of our Cultural Hub planning initiative (2024-2026). It will be used to support a part of the costs associated with schematic/engineering designs/plans, and a broader community engagement process. This grant underscores the importance of arts and design in community development and supports the tribe’s vision for a space that fosters cultural expression, education, and community cohesion.

      “With these initiatives combined—the NEH Preservation Assistance, the NEA Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, and the NEA Our Town Grant—the Eastern Shoshone Tribe is well-equipped to proceed with informed, community-centered planning and design for their new Cultural Hub, ensuring sustainability and cultural integrity.  The goal is to have the new Cultural Hub fully funded through grants, community support, and other private and public philanthropic contributions.”

      ‘For the Shoshone community by the Shoshone community’

      “We would like to share our excitement about the possibilities that the new ‘Cultural Hub’ holds for our community. We are at a pivotal point where community input and support are crucial. We encourage everyone to get involved, share their ideas, and participate in upcoming meetings and workshops. Together, we can make this long-awaited dream a reality and create a space that honors our past while looking forward to our future.


      “This Cultural Hub project is anticipated to significantly enhance economic development for Fort Washakie and the broader Wind River Indian Reservation. The construction phase will create new jobs and stimulate local businesses. Upon completion, the ongoing operations of the new facilities will not only provide dozens of continued employment opportunities but also attract visitors and increase economic activity in the surrounding areas including Lander, Dubois, and the greater Wyoming community. This development will serve as a catalyst for regional economic growth, benefiting both the immediate community and the state at large.

      “Most importantly, the goal will be to build a center for the Shoshone community by the Shoshone community. We want the community to feel pride in this new facility and be a place where they can embrace their culture and traditional practices, while also sharing, learning, and enjoying the space that tells their history accurately.”


      Related Posts

      Have a news tip or an awesome photo to share?