fbpx
 

RAPID CITY—The racist comments a hotel owner made has spurred regular protests at the Grand Gateway Hotel in Rapid City, South Dakota. A group of people have demonstrated outside the hotel property every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the last 12 weeks.

On March 20, Connie Uhre, a co-owner of the Grand Gateway Hotel, made disparaging comments about Native Americans on the Mayor of Rapid City’s Facebook page, saying she is unable to distinguish “between a good Native and a bad Native.” She has also threatened to ban Native Americans from the property. 

Led largely by NDN Collective, a not-for-profit Indigenous-led organization, protestors have been demonstrating outside the hotel rain or shine. 

Never miss Indian Country’s biggest stories and breaking news. Sign up to get our reporting sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. 

Sunny Red Bear, NDN Collective Director of Racial Equity, told Native News Online, “There is systemic racism that is happening all over this city. This accountability, here, is just the beginning.”

On March 23, NDN Collective filed a federal class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in South Dakota’s Western Division. The lawsuit contends that the Grand Gateway Hotel practices intentional racial discrimination after two Native American people tried to rent rooms at the hotel but were denied.

“We want the Department of Justice to shut down the Grand Gateway Hotel,” said Red Bear. 

“What are the things that create the conditions for racism to continue to exist in Rapid City?” she asked. “It’s not holding people accountable.” 

Uhre was arrested on May 27 for three counts of simple assault, after she sprayed a cleaning agent towards the faces of several demonstrators, including Red Bear. The incident was recorded and Uhre, 75, faces up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. 

Rapid City mayor Steve Allender said in a statement that he condemns the statements made by Uhre.

A 2015 study on race disparities in Rapid City policing showed that Native Americans are arrested more often than any other group in the city and that police are more likely to use force against Native Americans than members of any other race.

More Stories Like This

Native News Weekly (December 4, 2022): D.C. Briefs
White House Tribal Summit, Day Two: Biden Administration Commits to Tribal Health and Justice Programs
San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Surprises Native Nonprofits with $1M in Donations on #GivingTuesday
Biden Affirms Commitment to Tribal Nations, Announces New Initiatives at White House Tribal Nations Summit
PHOTOS: The White House Tribal Nations Summit

Do you appreciate a Native perspective on the news? 

For the past decade-plus, we’ve covered the important Indigenous stories that are often overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the toppling of colonizer statues during the racial equity protests, to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools, we have been there to provide a Native perspective and elevate Native voices.

Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.  Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $25 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10.  Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news. 

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Author: Darren ThompsonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a staff reporter for Native News Online who is based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Thompson has reported on political unrest, tribal sovereignty, and Indigenous issues for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Indian Country Today, Native News Online, Powwows.com and Unicorn Riot. He has contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Voice of America on various Indigenous issues in international conversation. He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminology & Law Studies from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.