Great Sioux Nation Asks Hotel Who Banned Native Americans From Evacuating Land Citing Sioux Treaty Violation

Native American tribal leaders have demanded a hotel in South Dakota leave their land after the hotel owner wrote a racist rant banning Native Americans from the hotel. Connie Uhre, owner of the Grand Gateway Hotel in Rapid City, posted on Facebook that she would not allow Native Americans into the hotel. Uhre said she was banning Native Americans after a shooting on the property. She also cited vandalism and “natives killing natives”. His post was later terminated. The tribal leaders responded by posting a notice to the hotel to leave, citing the hotel as being in violation of the “Treaty with the Sioux, April 29, 1868,” HuffPost reported.

Tribal leaders from the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Crow Creek Sioux Tribe lead a march of hundreds to their ancestral lands of Mniluzahan, known today as Rapid City. Photo by Willi White for NDN Collective. March 26, 2022.

“[Due] to the murder that took place at the Grand Gateway Hotel on March 19, 2022 at 4 a.m., plus all the vandalism we’ve been through since the mayor and police department worked with the nonprofit (Dark Money) . We will no longer allow any Native Americans on the property,” Uhre wrote in the post which was later deleted. She added that the hotel would also ban Native Americans from accessing the sports bar inside the hotel. There is no information about the “dark money” organization that Uhre is referring to. Local reports suggested the shot person was still alive after the shooting.

Uhre’s post sparked a firestorm and Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender called out Uhre’s comments on Twitterwriting, “In addition to blaming the mayor, police chief, sheriff, sheriff’s candidate, and the justice system, a local hotel bans all Native Americans for shooting on property days ago of the hotel. Neither the shooting nor Grand Gateway’s response to this one reflects our community values.”

“It is foolish to attack one race of people and not all the issues that affect the society in which we live. This includes racism,” Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe President Harold Frazier said in a statement. “Members of the Great Sioux Nation who visit our sacred Black Hills are often subject to this kind of behavior. Members who choose to live in our treaty territory are often treated as a problem no matter how we choose to live.

“When these wagons started their way to break treaties and move into our territory, we were categorized as lesser beings and genocide was justified as such,” Frazier continued. “The words spoken by this person remind my people that this is still the case – ‘No Indians allowed’. I demand an immediate apology from this person to Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Territory with clear and public.

Uhre’s son reportedly told local media that the hotel did not adopt the policy Uhre posted on Facebook, but NDN, an organization that works to protect the rights of indigenous peoples, said the hotel already refused his services to Native Americans. NDN said it is in possession of audio recordings of hotel staff refusing to rent hotel rooms to band members. The group is also filing a federal class action lawsuit against the hotel.

An “eviction notice” banner hangs above the sign of the Grand Gateway Hotel in Rapid City. Photo by Willi White for NDN Collective. March 26, 2022.

The tribal chiefs issued a notice of trespassing order to the hotel, citing violation of the provisions of the “Treaty with the Sioux, April 29, 1868”. According to the treaty, “no white person or person shall be permitted to settle or occupy any part of the [land north of the North Platte River or east of the summits of the Big Horn Mountains]; or without the consent of the Indians first had and obtained, to pass through the same. The Great Sioux Nation is now calling on the Grand Gateway Hotel to evacuate immediately. “You are further informed that the Great Sioux Nation, in order to prevent further intrusions upon said land, may … take possession, destroy or remove said property at your expense,” the order reads.

Photos by Willi White for NDN Collective. March 26, 2022.

“The Great Sioux Nation hereby condemns the egregious racism that emanates from the owner of the Grand Gateway Hotel and its affiliates in Rapid City,” Rosebud Sioux Tribe President Scott Herman said, Dakota News reported. On Sunday, the hotel announced it was “temporarily closed.”

Nohemi M. Moore