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Eastern Shoshone Business Council Co-Chairman Leslie Shakespeare Resigns

Eastern Shoshone Tribe

After three years serving on the Eastern Shoshone Business Council, Co-Chairman Leslie Shakespeare announced his resignation today. Next Friday, November 8 will be his last day on the council.

"It was a difficult decision, but I arrived at it for the best interest of myself and my family," Shakespeare said in an interview. "Any time you're in a political position, there's no guarantees moving forward that you'll continue in that position. So I'm just looking to the future. I had a nice opportunity come up, and I couldn't pass on it."

Shakespeare said he's not at liberty to talk about his new position just yet, but that it's outside of tribal government. He expects to be able to make an announcement in the coming weeks.

Since he was elected in 2016, Shakespeare said he is proud to have helped improve the relationship between the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and their neighbors on the Wind River Reservation, the Northern Arapaho Tribe.

"There were a number of issues with shared programs and shared resources that weren't getting looked at," Shakespeare said. "Three years later, we have agreements. We're making sure we have funding for our shared programs. I think it's gone kind of under the radar, but we have probably 100 jobs that were created just with the shared programs."

Shakespeare cited the recent resolution of a financial disagreement between the two tribes and the federal government as evidence of that improved relationship. He said he believes his tribe is in a better and more stable financial position than it was when he was elected.

"Before, we had delinquent audits. Now, we have a good solid foundation to be able to diversify [our economy] and go out for these different funding opportunities, whether it be through self governance or grants," Shakespeare said.

Eastern Shoshone Tribal law requires that Shakespeare's seat on the council be filled through a special election, a process which could be complicated by the recent resignation of a tribal election judge. The seat will remain vacant until that special election, whose winner will serve the 11-month remainder of Shakespeare's term.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Savannah Maher, at smaher4@uwyo.edu.

Savannah comes to Wyoming Public Media from NPR’s midday show Here & Now, where her work explored everything from Native peoples’ fraught relationship with American elections to the erosion of press freedoms for tribal media outlets. A proud citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, she’s excited to get to know the people of the Wind River reservation and dig into the stories that matter to them.
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