Nick and Connie Uhre didn’t just threaten to ban Indians from their Grand Gateway Hotel and Cheers Sports Lounge in Rapid City. According to the amended complaint that the NDN Collective and the group’s racial equity director Sunny Red Bear filed Thursday in federal court in Rapid City, the Grand Gateway Hotel actually refused to rent a room to Red bear and another Native American woman:
22. On March 21, 2022, Plaintiff Sunny Red Bear entered the Grand Gateway Hotel with another Native American woman. The two women tried to rent a room at the hotel.
23. After initially beginning to process the rental and providing a price quote, a hotel employee refused to rent a room to them, claiming that the hotel had a policy that it did not rent rooms to people with “local” identification. This was mere pretext to discriminate against Ms. Red Bear based on her race.
24. The hotel employee first claimed that this local identification policy was an actual policy. Then she reversed herself, claiming there was not a formal policy but that this was an effort to implement and/or deal with the fallout from Connie Uhre’s social media posts. On information and belief, no written policy existed, and no such policy was provided to Ms. Red Bear.
25. The hotel employee also did not allow the other woman to rent the room under her name using her identification.
26. As a direct result of Connie Uhre’s decision, announced on social media, to exclude Native Americans from her businesses, Ms. Red Bear was discriminated against in violation of federal law. On information and belief, Nicholas Uhre has also endorsed and enforced this policy [Brendan V. Johnson, Amended Complaint, NDN Collective and Sunny Red Bear v. Retsel Corporation, Connie Uhre, and Nicholas Uhre, U.S. District Court of South Dakota, Western Division, 2022.03.24].
Evidently not smart enough to smell a lawsuit coming, Grand Gateway staff denied more Indians rooms the next day, and Nick Uhre himself appears to have ejected Indians from his hotel:
30. On March 22, 2022, representatives of NDN Collective entered the Grand Gateway Hotel to reserve five rooms on behalf of the organization.
31. NDN Collective was told that they could not rent rooms due to some “issues” that the hotel had.
32. When NDN Collective stated that Expedia showed rooms available, the front desk employee confirmed that rooms were, in fact, available but the hotel would not rent those available rooms to NDN Collective.
33. At no point did the NDN Collective representative present a form of identification, local or otherwise.
34. The NDN Collective representative asked to speak to a manager. At all times, the interaction with the front desk employee was respectful and polite.
35. Immediately thereafter, an individual believed to be Nicholas Uhre approached the NDN Collective representatives and forcefully demanded that they leave the hotel. He then followed them out of the hotel. The representatives of NDN Collective were intimidated by Nicholas Uhre’s threatening demeanor [Amended Complaint, 2022.03.24].
To underscore the intimidation Natives may experience at the Grand Gateway, plaintiffs amended their complaint Thursday to include this statement, with a photo I first saw posted Twitter by Joye Braun on Wednesday, alleging that after these two unsuccessful attempts by Indian customers to rent rooms at the Grand Gateway, the hotel had stationed guards with at least one rifle in the lobby:
20. On information and belief, by the afternoon of March 23, 2022, the Grand Gateway Hotel had stationed guards, at least one of whom had an assault rifle, in the lobby of the hotel:
The plaintiffs allege violation of 42 USC §1981, which recognizes the right of “All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States… in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts….” They ask the court to certify this matter as a class action on behalf of the thousands of Native Americans to whom the Uhres are denying service; award compensatory, general, special, and punitive damages to each plaintiff; enjoin any unlawful anti-Indian policy practiced by the defendants; and deploy any other judicial butt-kicking the court deems appropriate.