The Grand Gateway Hotel in Rapid City, S.D. has settled one federal suit, but still faces two more.
South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s C.J. Keene has more.
The settlement agreement between the Department of Justice and the owning family of the Grand Gateway Hotel and Cheers Lounge in Rapid City comes over a year after the beginning of the saga.
The suits stem from owner Connie Uhre’s 2022 efforts to ban Native peoples from the businesses after an act of violence.
This particular federal discrimination suit was brought by the DoJ after the incident and the settlement terms must be approved by the federal court for the District of South Dakota.
Under the agreement, Uhre will be removed from any role with the business for the next four year.
Additionally, the company will hire a compliance officer, train employees, and implement anti-discrimination policies while reaching out to South Dakota-based Native organizations.
Those trainings are required for all owners, directors, partners, and employees of the Retsel Corporation – the hotel’s parent company – and will center around Title II protections which prohibit race-based discrimination in hospitality businesses.
Further, a written apology letter was published by the company’s board, largely made up of Uhre family members, acknowledging all Native peoples are welcome in their businesses.
This letter will be sent to the presidents or chairpersons of each of South Dakota’s tribal nations and to 19 news publications around the nation.
The company has 60 days to comply with the terms of the settlement.
The two other ongoing lawsuits come from Indigenous advocacy network NDN Collective and a Wisconsin family, who both allege the hotel denied Native people service illegally.
Both of those suits are pending. Representatives from the Retsel Corporation did not return request for comment.
Tribal leaders from across the country are gathered in New Orleans for the National Congress of American Indians annual convention where they’re addressing top concerns.
This week, they’re hearing directly from government officials including from the Interior Department as Rhonda LeValdo reports.
Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland (Ojibwe) was at the convention in person to address attendees Monday and held a press conference in the morning.
He was asked by reporters about the conclusion of the Interior Department’s Indian boarding school “The Road to Healing” tour.
Asst. Sec. Newland and Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland hosted the year-long healing tour, traveling across the country gathering testimony from survivors of Indian boarding schools, and helping connect communities with trauma-informed support.
The 12th and final stop was held recently in Montana.
Asst. Sec. Newland was asked if the Interior Department would assist states in forming curriculum with accurate information and history of federal Indian boarding schools.
“The President, (U.S. Education) Secretary Cardona, and the Department of Education have been clear about curriculum standards and things like that. For us, what we want to make sure is that we’re doing an accurate truth telling about what happened and being accountable for it and planning to move beyond that. And once that information is out there and once we the federal government are accountable for it, it’s not going anywhere, and that will be accessible to everybody.”
“The Road to Healing” is part of Sec. Haaland’s investigation into the troubled history of federal Indian boarding school policies and impacts on Native people.
This week, NCAI’s agenda includes a Tribal Consultation by the National Endowment for the Humanities on boarding schools, and a National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition update.
Other issues Asst. Sec. Newland was questioned about by reporters included cannabis, tribal colleges and universities, land-into-trust, and the process for federal recognition status.
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