Tribal Nation Expands Las Vegas Massacre Holdings with Shuttered Motel

Posted on: February 9, 2023, 05:20h. 

Last updated on: February 10, 2023, 11:10h.

The Three Affiliated Tribes is growing its macabre holdings surrounding the site of the Las Vegas Massacre. The North Dakota tribal nation is reportedly in the process of purchasing an abandoned motel called the White Sands. Owned by the estate of Spartaco Colleli, it will change hands for $10.25M, according to Clark County District Court records.

Las Vegas Massacre with White Sands
This Google Earth flyover of the aftermath of the Harvest 91 Music Festival demonstrates how close the abandoned White Sands Motel, shown behind the grandstands, was to the site of the tragedy. (Image: Reddit)

The White Sands, which closed in 1999, is enveloped on three sides by what was formerly known as Las Vegas Village. On Oct. 1, 2017, this became the location of the deadliest shooting in modern US history when 60 people were killed while watching the Harvest 91 music festival there.

According to a court filing last month, the tribal nation entered a purchase and sale agreement for the abandoned motel. They contracted with Las Vegas probate lawyer Kennedy Lee, who acted on behalf of Colleli’s estate.

A court hearing on the sale of the motel property is scheduled for March 23.

Growing a Foundation

Late last year, the Three Affiliated Tribes purchased 13 of the former Las Vegas Village’s 15 acres from MGM Resorts International for $92.8M. That left two acres on which MGM intends to build a memorial.

This purchase will give the tribal nation more than 20 acres of land along the South Strip. During a July 2020 bankruptcy auction, the tribe also purchased a vacant 8.7 acres just south of Las Vegas Village for $12 million.

The Three Affiliated Tribes have yet to announce what they intend to do with the land.

“Given our culture and who we are as a people, we understand and are sympathetic to the suffering that occurred five years ago, and it is our hope that whatever is determined to be developed on the site will be positive for the Las Vegas community and the millions of visitors who go to the area annually,” tribal chair Mark Fox said in a press release.

White Sands Motel
Since the White Sands Motel was closed and abandoned in 1999, its guests have consisted of unhoused people, drug dealers, and feral cats. (Image:

The Three Affiliated Tribes are a sovereign nation comprised of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation tribes, also known as MHA Nation. They are based in the Fort Berthold Reservation in western North Dakota, the second-most productive geographic area for shale oil production in the US. The group.

They operate the 4 Bears casino in North Dakota and have collected nearly $1.7 billion in tax revenues from drilling on nearly 1 million acres of its own land over the past 15 years.

Sands of Time

White Sands Motel
The White Sands Motel, shown in an early-1960s postcard, was draped in a banner ad reading: ‘Tired of crowds? Try us. We’re Quiet … Sh!’ (Image: Reddit)

The White Sands Sands Motel – which occupies 1.1 acres at 3889 S. Las Vegas Blvd. – was opened in 1959 by Frank and Margaret Durand, with profits they earned by selling their menswear business in Freehold Township, New Jersey.

It was one of several so-called motor court motels dotting the Strip’s southernmost end during its Mafia-blighted era. The list also included the Pollyanna, Kona Kai, Fez, Klondike, Diamond Inn, Glass Pool Inn, and Casa Malaga, among others.

The White Sands boasted a spire-like marquee and a heated pool, as well as a TV and shower in each of its 33 heated rooms. The Durands advertised it as a tranquil oasis tucked away from the noise of the Strip.

Several owners later, the White Sands ended up in the hands of Spartaco Colleli in 1986. Colleli died in 1992. The hotel closed seven years later, and Colleli’s estate neglected the property, causing the county to issue a “declaration of imminent danger” in 2015, citing the structure’s dangerous condition, the criminal activity it hosted, and feral cats in every unit.