By Darren Thompson
On March 20, Grand Gateway Hotel co-owner Connie Uhre commented on a Facebook post from Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender that Native Americans would no longer be allowed on the property, including “Cheers,” a popular bar attached to the hotel. Uhre’s comment came after an overnight shooting at the hotel landed a young Lakota man in the intensive care unit at the local hospital. In response, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe President Janet Alkire sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland noting that the ban is a violation of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment and the law. of 1964 on civil rights.
“In Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States, 379 US 241 (1964), the Supreme Court held that Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a valid exercise of the power of Congress and that Title II prohibits racial discrimination in public places,” Alkire wrote to Garland. “The Department of Justice has a responsibility to enforce the Civil Rights Act prohibition against denial of housing public based on race.”
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When Uhre’s comment to bar all Native Americans from hotel property came to light, Lakota Nation leaders were transparent and committed to presenting a united and organized response. Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe President Harold Frazier issued a press release on March 21, saying that since the settlers arrived, the Lakota were treated as a problem.
On Saturday, a protest was organized largely by tribal leaders with hundreds of participants. Collectively, the Lakota people issued a “Treaching (Cease and Desist) Notice” to the Grand Gateway Hotel, citing the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.
Prior to the Rapid City Incident, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe met with other Lakota tribes to participate and contribute to the conversation involving the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) which oversees permitting the operation of the Dakota Access Pipeline in Indian Treaty Territory.
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe External Affairs Director Kerry Libby recalls the collective presence of other Lakota Sioux tribes, also known as the Great Sioux Nation, at the recent meeting with USACOE.
“I think it’s important on these big issues that we work with the surrounding tribes as the Great Sioux Nation, not just with Standing Rock, but with all of them,” said Kerry Libby, Standing Rock’s director of external affairs. Sioux Tribe, at Native News Online.
Libby said several tribal chairmen expressed that they all loved the opportunity to work together as a collective tribe and agreed that the collective work must continue.
Tomorrow, all leaders of the Great Plains Tribal Presidents Association plan to meet privately in Pierre, South Dakota to discuss next steps for civil violations. “How can we stop racial discrimination from happening?” Libby said of the purpose of the upcoming meeting.
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