Posted on: March 29, 2022, 08:21h.
Last updated on: March 29, 2022, 08:21h.
A South Dakota hotel that banned Native Americans from booking rooms and visiting its casino bar has been served a notice of eviction by a group of area tribes.
The Grand Gateway Hotel in Rapid City adopted the policy after a shooting in one of its rooms in the early hours of Saturday, March 19. Both the shooter and the victim were Native American.
In a Facebook post that has since launched a civil rights lawsuit and several public demonstrations against her hotel, owner Connie Uhre wrote she could no longer “allow a Native American to enter our business, including Cheers.”
The Cheers Lounge and Sports Bar offers video lottery terminals (VLTs).
On the following Monday, two members of indigenous activist group the NDN Collective said they separately tried to book rooms at the hotel to test the policy. They claimed each was denied.
Now, local tribal leaders have issued the hotel with an eviction notice and cease and desist order. The order is signed by the Oglala Lakota Sioux, the Cheyenne River Sioux, the Crow Creek Sioux, the Rosebud Sioux, and the Standing Rock Sioux.
Rapid City isn’t part of any of the tribes’ reservations, but they argue the hotel’s policy violates an 1868 treaty between the Sioux and the US government, which they believe is still valid.
Among other things, it states:
…no white person or persons shall be permitted to settle upon or occupy any portion 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 tribal leaders said in an official statement that the Black Hills are the center of the Sioux Nation’s identity and are believed to be the heart of the earth, where all culture began.
“In accordance with the treaty and the laws located in the United States of America, and as a consequence of your act, you must permanently cease and desist from the violations charged,” reads the eviction notice. “You are instructed to vacate and remove your persons and any personal property you deem necessary from the Treaty Territory of the Great Sioux Nation immediately.”
The Great Sioux Nation hereby elects to declare forfeiture or abandonment of any property that you occupy or use if you fail to cease, desist, and vacate the premises,” it adds.
Further, the tribes said they were prepared to boycott not just the hotel and its subsidiaries but the entirety of Rapid City, pressuring the Rapid City Council to revoke the hotel’s business license. They are also prepared to file hate crimes charges against the owners.
Last Wednesday, the NDN Collective filed a lawsuit that accuses the hotel of racial discrimination and breaching the Civil Rights Act.
The hotel is currently listed as temporarily closed on Google.