He was the first person of Lakota or Sioux descent to serve in the U.S. Congress. Now Ben Reifel’s name will be used to create the next middle school in the Sioux Falls School District.
Ben Reifel has been making headlines in South Dakota for decades. We found video after video in our KELOLAND Archives.
If a new Sioux Falls middle school bears his name it will bring more attention to his many accomplishments.
“I think for anyone to have that opportunity to google, and to see the contributions and his accomplishments that you get the chance to learn to see how that affects us here in South Dakota, as well as, the nation,” Indian Education Department Chair Tim Easter said.
The South Dakota native made his mark in politics in the early 20th century, serving five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Now, he’ll be educating students for generations to come.
“It’s an opportunity for people to learn about Native American leaders, not just in the 19th century but in the 20th century and hopefully contemporary as well,” Tim Easter said.
Students are already taking notice.
“This means a lot to not only me, but to all the kids here, whether they show it or not. Because deep down I know they’re like, dang we have a relative that did this, and you know, maybe I can do it and I will do it,” Delilah Rouse said.
Rouse sees this as the first stepping stone for future generations.
“Education is where it’s going to start and it’s going to take us far, if we unite, not with only Native American people as a nation, but all races,” Delilah Rouse said.
The school board will finalize the name next week.