Hotel owner wants to ban Native Americans from property

Mar 22, 2022, 1:18 PM | Updated: 1:47 pm

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A social media post from an owner of a South Dakota hotel attempting to ban Native Americans from the property following a weekend shooting drew quick condemnation from the leader of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the city’s mayor.

Connie Uhre, one of the owners of the Grand Gateway Hotel in Rapid City, said in a Facebook post Sunday that she cannot “allow a Native American to enter our business including Cheers,” which is the establishment’s bar and casino.

That followed a shooting at the hotel early Saturday involving two teenagers. Rapid City police spokesman Brendyn Medina said both the victim and the shooting suspect are Native American.

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier condemned Uhre’s post, calling it racist and discriminatory, and demanded an apology.

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

Messages left at the hotel for Uhre and her son Nick Uhre, a manager, were not immediately returned.

Mayor Steve Allender posted a screenshot of Connie Uhre’s comment and said Monday on Twitter that neither the shooting nor the hotel’s response reflects the city’s values.

“I just felt that I couldn’t be silent and pretend like this is just a harmless venting out of frustration,” he said. “This is an attack on not only the 12% of Rapid Citians who are Native American, but also the larger Native American population nationwide..”

Allender said discrimination based upon race is unlawful in addition to being wrong and heartless.

“This is a much larger issue that they’ll have to defend to someone else, not me,” the mayor told the Rapid City Journal.

Rapid City, known to many as the gateway to Mount Rushmore, is home to more than 77,000 people. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, at least 11% of its residents identify as American Indian or Alaska Native.

Uhre’s post and the tense reaction it attracted is the latest incident involving fragile race relations in Rapid City. A demonstration in the city last Fourth of July holiday called for better treatment of Indigenous people by police and others.

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Hotel owner wants to ban Native Americans from property