For Immediate Release: December 14, 2023
Rapid City, SD – Yesterday, NDN Collective received a court-ordered apology letter from the Grand Gateway Hotel. In response, the organization released the following statement:
“While we are glad the court saw Connie Uhre’s statements about refusing to serve Native people as unacceptable, the fact that they had to issue an order for this letter is very telling. We find this so-called apology – which attempts to center Grand Gateway Hotel as an inclusive business – to be insulting and disingenuous.
“The letter contains an apology for ‘statements made by Connie Uhre,’ yet fails to mention that those statements were actually enforced when multiple Native people were denied a room. It fails to acknowledge the dangerous, dehumanizing, and very public physical assault Connie inflicted on community members.
“The letter tries to reposition the owners as friends to Native people, despite the fact that a second lawsuit was filed against the Grand Gateway Hotel just a couple months ago for racial discrimination against a Native person visiting from out of town.
“The letter says the owners know the Native community is made up of ‘hardworking individuals,’ to us, this begs the questions – who gets to decide which of us is ‘hardworking,’ and which is a threat? Do Native people have to prove ourselves as ‘hardworking’ just to get treated with basic human respect – a near impossible task when we’re constantly met with racism? When will Native people get the same benefit of the doubt and dignity as white people in South Dakota?
“From the beginning, we have made clear that our actions to hold owners of the Grand Gateway Hotel accountable for their discrimination and violence against Native people is part of a much bigger fight to address the rampant racism in Rapid City.
“We will continue to stand up for the rights and safety of the Native community. We encourage the owners of the Grand Gateway Hotel to rethink this letter. We would welcome another apology demonstrating reflection and a desire for real accountability, and containing next steps about how they plan to concretely repair the harm they’ve caused.”
NDN Collective is an Indigenous-led organization dedicated to building Indigenous power. Through organizing, activism, philanthropy, grantmaking, capacity-building, and narrative change, we are creating sustainable solutions on Indigenous terms.