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South Dakota hotel must apologize to Native Americans over 'racist' ban

The Grand Gateway Hotel will issue a public apology to Native Americans as part of its settlement with the federal government.

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Apr 8, 2024
2 min read
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Making a pledge: Connie Wuerl (pictured) was found guilty of two counts of assault for using a....aussiedlerbote.de
Making a pledge: Connie Wuerl (pictured) was found guilty of two counts of assault for using a known dust spray to attack protesters..aussiedlerbote.de

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South Dakota hotel must apologize to Native Americans over 'racist' ban

The owners of a South Dakota hotel-casino banning Indians from the property must publicly apologize to tribal groups in the state and across the Great Plains. It's part of an agreement to resolve a Justice Department lawsuit alleging violations of the 1964 Civil Rights Act at the Grand Gateway Hotel in Rapid City.

Meanwhile, 75-year-old boss Connie Uhre, who set out the racist policy, will be banned from being a director of the company for four years and will be banned from carrying out any management duties at the hotel.

In March 2022, Uhre wrote in a Facebook post that she would "no longer allow Native Americans on our properties, including the casino sports bar Cheers," a service provided by the Video Lottery Terminal (VLT).

That same day, her son, Nicholas Uhre, sent an email in a similar tone, complaining: "We can't tell the bad guys from the good guys, so we have to say no to them," court documents say .

Fatal Shootout

The announcements came a day after a shooting in a hotel room. The suspect, Quincy Bear Robe, and the victim, Myron Blaine Pourier Jr., are both Native Americans. Poirier died in hospital two weeks after the shooting, and in late October, Rob pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter. He is awaiting sentencing.

The hotel's policy caused an uproar and led to several civil rights lawsuits and a series of demonstrations by Native American groups and their supporters.

Members of one such group, NDN Collective, attempted to book a room at the hotel to test the policy and were confirmed denied.

Earlier this month, Connie Uhre was found guilty of two counts of assault for spraying a protester in the face with a bottle of Pledge dust spray.

The Gateway Plaza was closed at the height of the controversy but has since reopened.

"The Naked Animus"

"The defendants' conduct in this case was egregious, motivated by outright hostility and amounted to an outright ban on Native American patrons from public facilities," said Assistant Attorney General Christine Clark of the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division. She added: “Such acts of hate contribute to a long and painful history of negative stereotyping and marginalization of Native American communities.”

Clark praised tribal elders, local officials and Native American groups who spoke out against the hotel's "disgraceful behavior." She said the agreement would send a message to businesses across the United States that "the door must be open to all communities, regardless of race."

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Source: www.casino.org

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