In 2022, you wouldn’t think things like blatant bigotry and collective punishment still occur in some regions of America, but they unfortunately do.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it has filed a lawsuit against the Grand Gateway Hotel in Rapid City, South Dakota. The suit alleges that the hotel violated the civil rights of Native Americans by not allowing them on their property. This case is just another example of the continued discrimination faced by Native Americans in the United States.
This is an important case with far-reaching implications, and we’ll be following it.
On March 19, 2022, a Native man named Quincy Bear Robe opened fire in a room at the Grand Gateway Hotel, critically injuring a man. The 19-year-old shooter was arrested, but that was just the beginning of what would become a long, drawn-out spectacle
Connie Uhre, co-owner of the Grand Gateway Hotel, Connie Uhre, stated in a since-deleted Facebook comment that she can “not allow a Native American to enter our business including [sports bar] Cheers,” stating she can't tell “who is a bad Native or a good Native.” Read a screenshot of Connie’s rant here.
Connie blamed both Indigenous people as a whole and local government officials for the uptick in crime in the area. On top of that, her son, Nicholas, has also exhibited an anti-Native bias, through emails and social media posts he wrote about the issue.
Also important context: Rapid City is home to almost 80,000 people with an 11% Indigenous population. Turning away Native people from the Grand Gateway Hotel would force tons of potential customers to search for lodging elsewhere. But obvious racial tension and glaring discrimination are in play here.
Connie and Nicholas Uhre might not have seen this coming, but they probably should have.
Just last week, on Oct. 19, the DOJ filed a suit against the owners of the Grand Gateway Hotel, claiming that they “violated the civil rights of Native Americans by trying to ban them from the property.” More specifically, at least twice, the mother-son duo turned away Native American individuals seeking a room at the Grand Gateway Hotel.
According to an article in the Cherokee Phoenix, “The Justice Department sued under a section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that permits a judge to order changes to policies and practices at hotels and other venues, but does not allow the department to obtain monetary damages for customers who are victims of discrimination.”
The DOJ isn’t the only entity suing the Uhres. The NDN Collective and Connie’s other son, Judson, are also taking action. Judson claims his mother and brother have irrevocably hurt the reputation of the Grand Gateway Hotel and caused significant financial loss with their “racially charged” actions.
The Uhres' actions are unlawful, and we urge you to support Native Americans by NOT supporting the Grand Gateway Hotel in Grand Rapids, South Dakota. Show your solidarity by boycotting this business and spreading the word to others about what is happening. Instead, support inclusive businesses that don't discriminate against any groups in their communities.