A new Sioux Falls middle school is now under construction. The district broke ground on Ben Reifel Middle School Monday.
Ben Reifel was the first person of Lakota or Sioux descent to serve in U.S. Congress. His family traveled from around the country to be here for Monday’s groundbreaking.
“It’s an incredible honor, a way to honor him and his family members, we’re elated and excited and thrilled that he would be chosen to have his name on a school,” Ben Reifel’s Granddaughter, Lisa Moss, said.
Reifel was the administrator of Indian Affairs in 1933 because he was so passionate about South Dakota and its people.
“He always was very attached to the state, some of the people that go to Congress never return, but Ben’s roots and where his heart was, was here in South Dakota,” Ben Reifel’s Nephew, Martin Johnson, said.
The former Congressman also has a dormitory named after him at SDSU as well as a visitors center in the Badlands.
“Those are huge, but I think he’d be extremely proud of this one because of the difference a teacher made in the seventh and eighth grade for him… (You absolutely know that. That he’d be proud),” Moss and Johnson said.
So it’s only fitting that a building that will house 7th and 8th graders will bear his name… and will hopefully inspire future students.
“There’s going to be hundreds of thousands of students over a period of years into the future that attend this school who will possibly come to know of him and his legacy,” Lisa Moss said.
The Ben Reifel Middle School is just one of the new schools going up in KELOLAND. Keloland.com reporter Michael Geheren has that story here.