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NDN Collective Responds to Rapid City Hotel’s Indian Ban with Swift Civil Rights Lawsuit

That didn’t take long. Yesterday, hotelier Connie Uhre announced online her racist and illegal intention to ban Indians from the Grand Gateway Hotel and associated businesses under her family’s control in Rapid City. Her son Nick Uhre has been trying to toss that grenade back out of the family bunker. But today, the NDN Collective announced it will file a federal civil rights class action lawsuit at the federal courthouse in Rapid City tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m.… and they’re going to march to the courthouse with anyone who’d like to come with:

NDN Collective will be hosting a rally and march tomorrow, organized in partnership with the American Indian Movement and Cheyenne River Grassroots Collective. The groups will meet at the Memorial Park Bandshell at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, March 23, and march to the federal court house. The details of the NDN Collective class action lawsuit will be shared at a press conference and rally in front of the federal building in Rapid City at 3:00 pm.

The rally and march will be livestreamed on NDN Collective’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube [NDN Collective, press release, 2022.03.22].

NDN Collective members are taking a whole lot of righteous outrage to court:

“It’s heartbreaking and painful to take blows like this on a daily basis. This isn’t an Indian problem, this is a white supremacy problem and it shows up in businesses like the Grand Gateway Hotel, and in city council, too. Those who abuse their power are the decision makers who keep real education out of our schools, much-needed resources from our communities, Native children from their families, and our people in prison. Despite this mistreatment, Native people remain resilient. But our success in standing up to systemic racism is based on the support we give one another. I urge you to stand with Native communities. Together, our voices will mean victory against the racism that keeps us divided.” –Sunny Red Bear, NDN Collective Racial Equity Campaign Director

“I’m feeling very upset by all of this– this is not the 1950’s. We thought we left those times as a bad memory and hard lesson for our communities, but are we now back to square one in this state where businesses once posted signs reading, ‘No Dogs Allowed. No Indians Allowed’? Unless there is a strong response and action from city officials, this is pushing us backward, disgracing everything our people have fought for to achieve the very little equity that we have today.” –Hermus Bettelyoun, NDN Collective Racial Equity Organizer

“Native people in Rapid City and South Dakota, moreover, know all too well the sting of racism. It is covert, it is overt, it is sinister, and it is systemic. It is in local business, local government, in schools, and all the way up into the State legislature and the Governor’s office. We see it in the efforts to whitewash history through legislative bills aimed at covering up our historic and ongoing experiences with racism, preventing true history from being taught in schools with the attack on critical race theory. Meantime, we see the boldness of racism show up regularly in the comment threads of social media, and yesterday, we saw it directly from the words of a prominent business owner. There needs to be swift action from all institutions to respond to this. Our communities and our children deserve so much more.” –Sarah Sunshine Manning, NDN Collective Director of Communications

“I want to first acknowledge that someone is hospitalized and still fighting for their life following the unfortunate incident that took place on Saturday morning at the Grand Gateway Hotel. We are all relatives and should care about the loss of any life; we should be coming together as a community to develop solutions for addressing violence in our communities. The owner of the hotel did the complete opposite by displaying clear disdain and racist beliefs against Native people.

“Where are the officials who are elected to represent and support ALL of Rapid City’s residents? What action is being taken? Our children should not have to grow up in a world that degrades and disrespects them because of the color of their skin or the culture they come from. There are long-term emotional and psychological impacts of such disgusting behavior, and our children and our communities deserve better. So when elected officials consider interventions and solutions for change within the community for addressing violence, you cannot leave out the racist violence that is inflicted on Native people every single day in Rapid City and across South Dakota. We demand accountability at both the City and State level, and we will not back down until businesses perpetuating racist actions and practices are held accountable for their actions.” –Korina Barry, NDN Collective Managing Director of NDN Action

“Mniluzahan [Rapid City] is our home, our land, and our community. We will not tolerate racist policies and practices like those demonstrated by the Grand Gateway Hotel. Our communities are struggling and our young people are up against so many challenges and obstacles. As we continue tirelessly to find ways to heal and support them, we must put an immediate stop to business owners and politicians who attack our people through discriminatory and white supremacist tactics. We call upon all our relatives throughout Lakota Territory to join us. We invite all Black, Indigenous, People of Color and White Allies to march with us as we demand action.” –Nick Tilsen, NDN Collective President and CEO [NDN Collective, 2022.03.22]

Dang: maybe instead of bragging about banning “divisive” talk from our higher education campuses to keep her fellow white people from hearing uncomfortable facts about systemic racism and white privilege, our Governor could drop by Rapid City to talk to certain hoteliers and ask them not to say divisive, stupid, racist things that hurt the tourism industry… not to mention the spirits of all the good Lakota citizens of this state?

26 Comments

  1. grudznick 2022-03-22 18:16

    This is a nasty motel and should be avoided no matter the racist attitudes of the innkeeps. They should probably be drummed out of their hotel guild, or union, or whatever sort of outfit they belong to. I bet these fellows own more than one hotel in town here.

  2. Mark Anderson 2022-03-22 19:41

    These people are just the tip of the iceberg so to speak. Every crazy inspired by his twitterness is now letting the world know about their absolute stupidity. By the way today is the day we pass one million dead from Covid. Keep avoiding your shots right wingers and please, please go maskless and hug each other.

  3. Allen Jeris 2022-03-22 23:34

    We are still talking about masks for Christ’s sake.

  4. cibvet 2022-03-23 00:34

    At one time the signs did read”‘No Dogs Allowed. No Indians Allowed’. Not much progress when at present most hospitality businesses allow dogs, but still can not allow Indians.Nothing but silence kristicon.

  5. jerry 2022-03-23 05:09

    NOem should rescind her ridiculous edict on the CRT…also my cat should do a better job of covering her crap in the litter box too, neither likely.

    Maybe Mark Anderson has something, if these right wingers continue to flaunt masks and shots, maybe they will just do us all a huge favor and eliminate the problem with their own actions.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-03-23 05:40

    Co-owner Judson Uhre says his mom is no longer president of the company and has not been in that position for “a long time”, but he’s also trying to spin his mom’s comments as somehow an expression of grief over the death of her own son three years ago. RCJ further reports that Nick Uhre says “his hotel staff has been infiltrated by ‘political operatives seeking to damage’ the business and create negative attacks in the media. ‘We are and have been targeted simply for telling the truth,’ he said.” BUt if anything, Uhre’s staff has been defiltrated: SDPB has one Red Elk Zephier, a former staffer at the hotel’s bar, saying that he and the whole bar staff and some hotel staff have quit over the Uhres’ proposed Indian ban.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-03-23 05:46

    According to SDPB, Nick Uhre says the real bad guy here is Mayor Allender is the real bad guy: “‘Steve Allender has incited violence and he’s put a target on my back, my family’s back, my staff’s back, my guests back,’ Nick wrote in his email to SDPB. Nick said the mayor’s comments are an impeachable offense and that Gov. Kristi Noem should remove him from office.”

    Nick Uhre obviously doesn’t understand the law, impeachment, or the power of the Governor.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-03-23 05:55

    Jerry, the Governor and other privileged elites want to shut down conversations like these. They don’t want to admit that racism persists, because they don’t want to have to do anything about it. They want racism to linger quietly and preserve their privilege. We can be pleased that Rapid City’s leadership has responded so swiftly and vigorously to this blatant racism.

  9. Richard Schriever 2022-03-23 07:32

    The general approach of the “conservatives” in power in this state, by virtue of having a single letter of the alphabet attached to their politics, toward education is the larger issue. It is not simply avoidance of “CRT” teaching. That is simply the latest distractive phrase. The larger issue is that they view education from a “training school” perspective, that the purpose of education is not to engage citizens in critical thinking processes of any kind, but rather to provide obedient high functioning employees to corporate overlords. I.E., to crank out worker bees. Anything else is presented as “perverse”.

  10. jerry 2022-03-23 08:21

    This incident proves CRT is a needed tool to educate all on our real life travel in this country. NOem and her elite fail to realize American history is not about the white man, it’s about a multi cultured, multi race based experiment.

    A real leader would now promote CRT at all levels of education, but, alas, we have only a blabber mouth called NOem.

    Like her boy Putin, NOem fails to see her failure.

  11. mike from iowa 2022-03-23 08:42

    They should probably be drummed out of their hotel guild, or union, or whatever sort of outfit they belong to.

    More likely the Klan or Prowd Boys.

  12. All Mammal 2022-03-23 10:32

    While Rapid City feigns surprise over some hag’s comment, where was Mayor Allender’s indignation when a police officer closed-fistedly cleaned a little 12 year old Native girl’s clock on this video?

    https://www.facebook.com/Tmasterguy/videos/10156972543418003/

    I’m still sick with myself for not being up in arms to show this young lady her community will protect her from the guys we pay to protect.

    The kids were walking home from South Middle School on a Friday afternoon when two twelve year old girls started scrapping. While engaged in this age-appropriate behavior, a grown man, on duty for the RCPD got involved by trying to separate the hellcats. They did not cease and release on command, so he engages them on the ground.

    Still unable to reign authority over the little girls and quell their excitement, he rears back, and decks one in her face. He then yanks her and slams her face into the ground with her neck contorted under his weight. The students were scared witnessing this abuse and had no power to stop it, lest they want to be another RC statistic of Native youth shot by cop.

    Tf is wrong with our society when the mayor himself says the officer was doing exactly what he was trained to do? The behavior the girls were engaged in is probably the most normal thing they did all day and were on their way to middle school stardom for a week. They would have resumed being friends again after the hormones burned off in a healthy school yard tussle.

    Once a grown man with an arsenal of lethal weapons joins the mix rolling on the ground, the situation becomes unnatural. Kid culture is a real thing and should be respected. When adults pry into the sanctity of it, their mere presence kills the innocence of it.

    The girl had a sore neck and shiners the following weeks. But our lack of concern and swift response left permanent deep scarring.

  13. larry kurtz 2022-03-23 12:11

    Can someone name more than two Democrats in the greater Black Hills voting bloc with any clout whatsoever?

  14. All Mammal 2022-03-23 12:38

    Nope, Mr. Kurtz. Just a bunch of taxation without representation. Anytime a sane person gets close, they wind up a criminal and lose their voting ‘privileges’. I told a felon I know to see what happens if he holds off paying taxes until he gets his voting rights back. He laughed.

  15. mike from iowa 2022-03-23 13:31

    Pig probably got a purple heart for meritorious service against 2 female juvies at one time. They tend to have claws and have been known to bite like girls. Cops will now have to patrol in threes or fours for maximum protection against vicious 7th graders.

  16. All Mammal 2022-03-23 19:31

    Indubitably, mfi, indubitably.

  17. John Dale 2022-03-24 07:57

    Fun fact: I recently played guitar at Bruce Whalen’s 60th birthday party at this hotel. I’m not sure how racism has changed, but Bruce Whalen is Oglala Lakota.

    So, the lawsuit is moot since the owner has retracted the statement.

    But that won’t stop a lawfare grift?

    It’s a tragic circumstance .. which is worse, the words of the owner or what happened to the victim?

    If most people would think outside the box, South Dakota would be a better place.

    BTW, a new Big Picture you can listen to at you know where. :)

  18. John Dale 2022-03-24 07:59

    If, purely hypothetically I *cough* assure you, an election was stolen, is this a civil rights issue as thought someone (or millions of them) had been kept away from the ballot box?

    Was the violence along “Opportunity Zone” boundaries last Summer against white people a civil rights violation?

  19. larry kurtz 2022-03-24 08:05

    Rapid City’s population is about 11% Native but South Dakota’s jails and prisons are overwhelmingly warehousing American Indians. Journalist Tim Giago sees little difference between Rapid City and Ferguson, Missouri where Michael Brown’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against that police department. Daniel Tiger chose to take out two Rapid City police personnel with him rather than be gunned down in cold blood like Christopher Capps was. After another high profile racism incident the Rapid City Rush has an alcohol-free family section in the civic center.

  20. larry kurtz 2022-03-24 08:09

    James Maher has produced bronzes of many of the horrific losers in US presidential history for the City of Presidents Foundation: Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan, Woodrow Wilson, Hoobert Heever, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Now he plans to create a sculpture of Donald Trump. Fact is: most of the downtown Rapid City statues depict slave owners, at least one child rapist, war criminals and figures in history that ordered the murders of American Indians so maybe the bronze of Herr Trump should be placed right outside the Grand Gateway Hotel.

  21. larry kurtz 2022-03-24 08:21

    Bruce Whalen is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

  22. bearcreekbat 2022-03-24 09:34

    According to the Thursday (3-24-22) RC Journal two different Native Americans allegedly were sent by NDN to attempt to rent rooms at the Gateway after the President’s published anti-Native comment, but were turned away. As I understand the article, the NDN lawsuit is based on that allegation, with the President’s comment merely a strong piece of evidence supporting the allegation of race discrimination.

  23. All Mammal 2022-03-24 09:39

    I went to school with Daniel Tiger. He never went by that name, though. He was a quiet, nice boy. I was working at Youth & Family Services when the police harassed him sitting on a bus stop bench that day. We had to lock down and I had to lay across my class of scared little people. I was scared to death too. The next day, we learned that neighboring homes had bullet holes in their dining rooms and kid’s bedroom walls. Besides my school, they were shooting their guns in the heart of THE school zone in North Rapid. There were several daycares and an elementary and middle school where we were classmates only a block away. The projectiles people pulled out of their walls were from the officers’ firearms. Mayor Allender was police chief at the time and all staff at YFS was supposed to buy and wear his Heroes Wear Blue t-shirts for a group photo taken by helicopter after the incident. I accidentally wore red that day.

  24. mike from iowa 2022-03-24 15:22

    More Native American news of note, this from Duluth, Minn. where high school kids called for bombing all Native American students.

    https://www.rawstory.com/racism-2657033129/

    Will this stuff ever end or do we have to rid the planet of racists and magats for love and peace to have a chance?

  25. Spike 2022-03-24 19:38

    If anyone should be banned it should be John Dale from this blog.
    Whalen is a clown and an embarrassment to his tribe. He and Dale can share a pile of cow manure at their next tin hat meeting.

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