March 22, 2022

NDN Collective Responds to Rapid City Hotel Threat to Ban all Native Americans with Civil Rights Lawsuit

NDN Collective will be filing a federal civil rights class action lawsuit against the Grand Gateway Hotel for its racist and discriminatory treatment of Native people, a response to the charged statement made by the Rapid City business on social media.

For Immediate Release: MArch 22, 2022

Rapid City, SD — Today, in response to a charged statement on social media from a Rapid City hotel and business owner who threatened to ban all Native Americans from the Grand Gateway Hotel and Cheers Lounge, NDN Collective announced they will be filing a federal civil rights class action lawsuit on Wednesday, March 23, against the Grand Gateway Hotel for its racist and discriminatory treatment of Native people.

NDN Collective will be hosting a rally and march tomorrow, organized in partnership with the American Indian Movement and Cheyenne River Grassroots Collective. The groups will meet at the Memorial Park Bandshell at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, March 23, and march to the federal court house. The details of the NDN Collective class action lawsuit will be shared at a press conference and rally in front of the federal building in Rapid City at 3:00 pm. 

The rally and march will be livestreamed on NDN Collective’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube.

NDN Collective released the following statements, laying out civil rights violations and a long history of systemic racism in Rapid City and South Dakota:

“It’s heartbreaking and painful to take blows like this on a daily basis. This isn’t an Indian problem, this is a white supremacy problem and it shows up in businesses like the Grand Gateway Hotel, and in city council, too. Those who abuse their power are the decision makers who keep real education out of our schools, much-needed resources from our communities, Native children from their families, and our people in prison. Despite this mistreatment, Native people remain resilient. But our success in standing up to systemic racism is based on the support we give one another. I urge you to stand with Native communities. Together, our voices will mean victory against the racism that keeps us divided.” –Sunny Red Bear, NDN Collective Racial Equity Campaign Director

“I’m feeling very upset by all of this– this is not the 1950’s. We thought we left those times as a bad memory and hard lesson for our communities, but are we now back to square one in this state where businesses once posted signs reading, ‘No Dogs Allowed. No Indians Allowed’? Unless there is a strong response and action from city officials, this is pushing us backward, disgracing everything our people have fought for to achieve the very little equity that we have today.” –Hermus Bettelyoun, NDN Collective Racial Equity Organizer

“Native people in Rapid City and South Dakota, moreover, know all too well the sting of racism. It is covert, it is overt, it is sinister, and it is systemic. It is in local business, local government, in schools, and all the way up into the State legislature and the Governor’s office. We see it in the efforts to whitewash history through legislative bills aimed at covering up our historic and ongoing experiences with racism, preventing true history from being taught in schools with the attack on critical race theory. Meantime, we see the boldness of racism show up regularly in the comment threads of social media, and yesterday, we saw it directly from the words of a prominent business owner. There needs to be swift action from all institutions to respond to this. Our communities and our children deserve so much more.” –Sarah Sunshine Manning, NDN Collective Director of Communications

“I want to first acknowledge that someone is hospitalized and still fighting for their life following the unfortunate incident that took place on Saturday morning at the Grand Gateway Hotel. We are all relatives and should care about the loss of any life; we should be coming together as a community to develop solutions for addressing violence in our communities. The owner of the hotel did the complete opposite by displaying clear disdain and racist beliefs against Native people.

“Where are the officials who are elected to represent and support ALL of Rapid City’s residents? What action is being taken? Our children should not have to grow up in a world that degrades and disrespects them because of the color of their skin or the culture they come from. There are long-term emotional and psychological impacts of such disgusting behavior, and our children and our communities deserve better. So when elected officials consider interventions and solutions for change within the community for addressing violence, you cannot leave out the racist violence that is inflicted on Native people every single day in Rapid City and across South Dakota. We demand accountability at both the City and State level, and we will not back down until businesses perpetuating racist actions and practices are held accountable for their actions.” –Korina Barry, NDN Collective Managing Director of NDN Action

“Mniluzahan [Rapid City] is our home, our land, and our community. We will not tolerate racist policies and practices like those demonstrated by the Grand Gateway Hotel. Our communities are struggling and our young people are up against so many challenges and obstacles. As we continue tirelessly to find ways to heal and support them, we must put an immediate stop to business owners and politicians who attack our people through discriminatory and white supremacist tactics. We call upon all our relatives throughout Lakota Territory to join us. We invite all Black, Indigenous, People of Color and White Allies to march with us as we demand action.” –Nick Tilsen, NDN Collective President and CEO

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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.

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