Grand Gateway Hotel ownership settles federal discrimination suit
The legal troubles surrounding the Grand Gateway Hotel in Rapid City, South Dakota have just gotten a little lighter. The embattled business settled one federal suit, but still faces two 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 Department of Justice after the incident. 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 years. 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 terms of the settlement and apology can be found here.
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.