“Way back to the 60s, Frank Ducheneaux, my grandfather, was chairman, and he set aside the whole east end for economic development,” said Jamie Ducheneaux, a Cheyenne River Tribal member who lives in the north eastern part of CRST.
“My dad, Frank Ducheneaux, said that I am seeing his old man’s dream come true,” J. Ducheneaux said.
On Friday, Feb. 9, at 11:00 a.m., J. Ducheneaux hopes that his grandfather is watching the grand opening of the DX Bait Shop overlooking the water that now covers the Old Cheyenne Agency.
J. Ducheneaux said his wife Vicki spent the past year going through the CREATE program offered by Four Bands Community Fund. Ducheneaux said with a sigh that it was a long year for his family.
The CREATE program offers participants education in developing and financing their own business. Vicki, said J. Ducheneaux, is the backbone for getting him and his son Rusty to realizing the grand opening.
“Four Bands made us work for it – you don’t just go in there and take the class; there is a lot of work behind it,” Ducheneaux said.
“We were a little let down for the timing of the year, because it is a slow season now; there were times it didn’t look like this was going to happen, although we don’t have as much as we would like, it looks like things are coming together,” Ducheneaux said.
DX Bait Shop: Beer, Bait and Tackle will specialize in quality fishing tackle and bait and Ducheneaux said they plan to offer “some of the best bait and tackle that money can buy.”
“We will have gas in June or July, but mostly beer, bait and tackle – not necessarily in that order – and we will have all the latest fishing accessories – ice fishing for another 45 days, and summer is not too far,” J. Ducheneaux said.
Ducheneaux said that for the opening, he is not happy with the small minnows he ordered, but once the season changes, he plans to trap his own minnows and aims to have the best minnows around.
In addition to minnows, Ducheneaux’s shop will have wax worms, shiners, and smelt – bait that fits the season and the fishing.
DX Bait Shop provides people on or passing through the reservation a specialized fishing supply story that will keep money on the reservation and help spur economic development on the east end of the reservation.
The shop is three or four miles from the bridge that connects reservation and non-reservation land on the Missouri River.
“Thanks to the tribe and their desire to have economic development on the east end, and for allowing us to utilize this unused building down here,” said J. Ducheneaux.
The first annual ice fishing competition Ducheneaux hopes will be followed up with other tournaments for both youth and adults later in the year, including horse shoe tournaments, summer fishing tournaments, and other events that draw people to the area along the river for camping, fishing and cook outs not just during holidays.
While the shop has a smaller focus now, Ducheneaux said he would also like to have a few john boats on the dock, establish an RV park and boat storage which would require working in company with a tribe to acquire electricity to 15-20 points.
“We’re putting in suggestions for speed bumps and lights to light up the dock area,” Ducheneaux said.
While his and his family’s dreams are big, Ducheneaux said he is happy starting small, and grateful for the support he has received from friends, families and businesses.
We want to reach out and invite people.
Ducheneaux said he is not really looking at his business as competing for customers with businesses across the river.
“I am just wanting to keep some of the money at home and put it into a tribally owned business,” he said.
Besides, Ducheneaux explained, there are some things that his small bait shop cannot compete with, such as the times during which he can sell beer, which is limited to sales beginning at 11:00 a.m. mountain and ending at at 10 or 10:30 p.m. with no sales on Sunday, versus across the river where they can sell seven days a week
If, as business owners, the Ducheneaux’s try to treat everybody with decency and respect, they then hope the quality of their products and services will spread and more people will come to their shop for fishing needs.
“We may not have all the products they seek, we just want to focus on the beer, bait and tackle – we will carry what we find is in demand for the seasons – for example, right now, it’s mostly ice fishing necessities, he said.
While there are a lot of ice fishing tournaments going on this weekend, and Ducheneaux is not expecting a great turn-out, he wanted to give his son Rusty and those who helped Rusty credit for getting flyers out and sponsors for the tournament on opening day.
In the future, Ducheneaux said he may schedule the annual tournament so it does not conflict with existing, popular tournaments.
“It’s kind of scary [setting up a business] in the middle of nowhere – at the mercy of the fishing industry, and the people,” said Ducheneaux, pausing in his thoughts.
“If we have good service and quality products with reasonable prices and can help people save themselves 4 or 5 miles across the river, we might do alright,” Ducheneaux said.
In his final comments, Ducheneaux expressed his appreciation for his family and friends, Four Bands and the tribe for helping him and his wife and son start this small business.
Karen Nitzschke, who passed away recently, told Ducheneaux how proud she was that he was starting this business, and she said to him, “On a nice day I am going to come down and see that bait shop.”
Ducheneaux said that she succumbed to cancer and missed it by two and half weeks, but that he hopes her spirit and his grandfather’s spirit will be able to see it anyway – the realization of one tribal member’s dream of economic development and independence on the reservation.