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Standing Rock Sioux Tribe calls for a federal investigation into racist remarks

Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairwoman Janet Alkire is calling on the federal government to launch a racial discrimination investigation into the Grand Gateway Hotel in Rapid City.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Alkire states, “The Department of Justice has the responsibility to enforce the Civil Rights Act prohibition against denial of access to public accommodations based upon race.”

Alkire calls on other tribal leadership to stand in solidarity.

“This type of discriminatory behavior cannot be tolerated, and will not be tolerated,” she wrote. “Allowing this type of discrimination to occur without repercussion will undeniably set a precedent for other business owners to follow suit, and ultimately cause civil unrest.”

Hundreds of Native Americans and their allies descended Saturday on Rapid City in protest against the remarks of an owner of the Grand Gateway Hotel, who said in an email that the hotel would no longer welcome Native Americans. The remarks have been widely condemned, and the hotel's manager said no ban on Native Americans was enforced.

The Great Sioux Nation Tribal Chairmen’s Association held a meeting in Rapid City over the weekend to address the issue and to serve the owners of the Grand Gateway Hotel a cease-and-desist order.

The chairmen met downtown at the Elevate Rapid City offices. Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairmen Harold Frazier attended the meeting.

“One of the ultimate goals is that our Native people are treated with dignity and respect,” Frazier said. “This is who we are and where we come from, and we should be treated better than that. So that's the ultimate goal, that everybody is treated equally like a human being.”

Allison Renville, a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, attended the Saturday march.

“What I express today, is that it's really important for us to challenge white folks in South Dakota to hold their neighbors, their friends, their relatives accountable,” Renville said.

In their official statement, the tribal chairmen and presidents said they are prepared to take a number of further actions, including a boycott of Rapid City and the hotel, and moving events such as the Lakota Nation Invitational basketball tournament and the Black Hills Pow Wow out of Rapid City.

    “You know that there's a lot more issues than what we see,” Frazier said. “I mean, a lot more, and that's something too that I myself pledge, and I'm encouraging the other chairmen to come with me. In a couple weeks, come out here and have a listening session to the Native American community. And then, from that, from their listening, we can see where a lot of problems lie.”
    Canupa Mani is Oglala Lakota. He wants to fight for those who don’t have a voice.

    “My fight and stance is to protect elders, like this grandma and children that don't have a voice to say, 'Hey, they're treating me like crap over here,'" Mani said. "That's the problem with the way America does a thing. White America has always practiced and perfected colonial policies.”

    The Indians Allowed March on Saturday started at Roosevelt Park, where hundreds of allies gathered, and ended at the Grand Gateway Hotel.

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