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Digital Library of South Dakota

About this collection

Ben Reifel was a Lakota Sioux and a Republican United States Congressman from the First District of South Dakota from 1961-1971. Born on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, Reifel graduated from South Dakota State College in 1932. He worked for the Department of the Interior beginning in 1933, retiring as the Aberdeen, South Dakota area administrator of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in March 1960. While a member of congress, Reifel served on the House Agricultural Committee, the House Committee on Appropriations, and the House Appropriations subcommittee on Interior Department Affairs. He worked for farming interests, opposing cuts in farm support programs, pushed for the Oahe Irrigation Projects, and gave his support for the Civil Rights Act of 1966. He was instrumental in getting the Earth Resources Observation Systems center (EROS) located in South Dakota. This collection of his papers is composed of memorabilia, scrapbooks, campaign items, personal items, photographs, and sound recordings related to Reifel's career as a public servant, especially his years in the United States Senate and his work with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

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