South Dakota hotel faces lawsuit after banning Native Americans

By John Christian Hopkins

A Tweet from Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender shows Connie Uhre’s Facebook post.

The Grand Gateway Hotel, in Rapid City, SD, is facing a lawsuit after the owner posted a since-deleted Facebook notice that Native Americans were not welcome on the property.

The ban was announced following a March 19 shooting involving a Native American.

Hotel owner Connie Uhre reportedly told local media that she couldn’t tell “a bad native from a good native” so all were banned.

This not only led to protest marchers and loss of business; but dragged the Great Gate into a trial.

In response to Uhre’s suit, the NDN Collective, a Native American organization in South Dakota, filed a lawsuit against the hotel, its parent company, Uhre, and his son Nick Uhre, hotel manager, for “explicit racial discrimination” after several natives tried to rent rooms without success.

Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender said Uhre’s attitude did not reflect the city’s position.

Lakota elder Tim Giago said Uhre’s ban was nonsense because many natives previously stayed at hotels in Rapid City.

In addition to declaring a ban on native guests, the hotel also offered “special rates” for non-natives and ranchers.

Nick Uhre said no ban was enacted.

Nohemi M. Moore