New schools named after a Slave owner & Lakota lawmaker

This is a signed photo I have of Ben Reifel with Ms. Universe (Greece) and Ms. South Dakota (not sure of the date).

Oh, the irony of naming one school after a Native American and a slave owner who seduced one (or more) of his slaves. I will just let that go.

It should NOT surprise us that they named the HS after Jefferson. That was a forgone conclusion. But while I like Reifel* as the choice for the Middle School, I would be curious how many people recommended the name. My guess is ONE. This is why the committee met in secret, and we only have the names of two of the members (School Board President Alberty and a Lakota student). We were told in the press conference that the committee consisted of 12 people, and two co-chairs, Dr. Boysen and Super Nold. The members were students, teachers, parents and administrators. No other names.

I am still disappointed that the committee met in secret with secret members and no idea what the other suggestions were. If this was a private school, they could have done this all in secret, but since the SFSD is funded by taxpayers this process should have been in the open. Just like the school bond election, a total SHAM.

*Ben Reifel served five terms as U.S. Congressman for South Dakota and is of Lakota Sioux descent. I bet if you asked 5 students or parents before the announcement they would have NO CLUE who Reifel was. He actually has an impeccable reputation of highest integrity. My guess is he would have been very disappointed in the naming process.



18 comments ↓

#1 "Very Stable Genius" on 01.24.19 at 12:54 pm

After naming a middle school after McGovern, they were bound to name a school after a Republican. Think of the other possibiliities, so we should be thankful they did not go there.

#2 l3wis on 01.24.19 at 1:19 pm

Nothing wrong with picking Ben, I just thought it to be a bit obscure. I can almost guarantee you 100% that NO one suggested Ben in the online survey, but I guess we will never know since the Sioux Falls School Reich keeps everything a secret.

#3 "Very Stable Genius" on 01.24.19 at 1:46 pm

Sensitivity was obviously not an issue, was it? Because not only did they name a school after a former slave owner, but they also name a school – in this age of greater gun violence – that suggests a gun.

But at least its not BJ or Mundt Middle School though…. But the ‘Speedsters’ logo would have be so much fun to design, however…. 😉

#4 Patrick L Lalley on 01.24.19 at 1:49 pm

I get your comments on Jefferson, but he still wrote this: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

#5 l3wis on 01.24.19 at 2:53 pm

VSG, the only thing Mundt was famous for was holding an elected position while being incompacitated.

Did you know I used to be friends with his personal secretary? Since she moved to the SW I haven’t kept in touch with her. I asked her once how many staffers Mundt had, she laughed and said, “You are looking at them.”

#6 l3wis on 01.24.19 at 3:13 pm

I also find naming the HS after Jefferson a bit ironic considering Jefferson was horrible with his personal finances often spending money he didn’t have on extravagance when it came to Monticello.

#7 "Very Stable Genius" on 01.24.19 at 3:32 pm

Pat,

You’re right, we are all a product of our times and even if Jefferson was a slave owner, many of the things he believed in and fought for have energized our nation over the last two hundred plus years in positive manners.

In fact, both the right and left at different times claim him to be one of their own; But when a Board names a school to complete a Mt. Rushmore motif, even though that is the name of a former slave owner, then tries to make up by naming an other school after a Republican to offset the McGovern naming and an Indian at that to make it look more political correct, that is a Board that is trying to be all things to all people and in so doing is failing to send a consistent message.

Some of us are old enough to remember the controversy of when Reagan went to Bitburg. Has the Board now gone to Bitburg? Is this our own unique Jim Crowe period, except where we do not try to rewrite history or steer it, rather we try to be all things to all people?

As far as Mundt, that is true l3wis. I believe part of the reason he remained in office incompacitated was because he and his people didn’t want Farrar appointing or arranging himself into the US Senate…. By the way, had that happen, Abdnor would have then been our Governor…… That’s something to ponder about….

But you are right, his political longevity and incompacitation are his true legacy. He was a part of the Army/McCarthy hearings and served on the Labor Committee with JFK and RFK, but history doesn’t remember him for that, they remember him best for laying on a hospital bed….

Back then, we had a problem with Republicans not resigning when they were not healthy. Now, we have a problem with healthy Republicans runnning, winning, then immediately resigning. Perhaps, the bridge between these two Republican realities was started in ’82 when the SD GOP nominated and successfully elected a candidate for School and Public Lands who had terminal cancer – everyone knew it – but that way, BJ could appoint his replacement soon after.

#8 D@ily Spin on 01.24.19 at 3:38 pm

Jefferson had problems with managing his farm because he was often enlisted for posts in Washington. He had slaves who managed the farm not so good. He didn’t want to own slaves but was expected to. Slaves lived behind Monticello in a small enclave with a Main Street. They were offered their freedom but liked where they lived. He had an African American significant other and fathered mixed race children. The only large room at Monticello was for when he had to meet political visitors. The rest of the house was small rooms and minimal accommodation. He raised marijuana. He was a man ahead of his time in many respects who gave his time free for the nation.

The only thing wrong with naming the high school Jefferson is that this school district has no respect for democracy or for the constitution Jefferson drafted.

Will the new middle school be the Reifel Indians? Go Indians, beat Custer.

#9 "Very Stable Genius" on 01.24.19 at 4:51 pm

At Monticello, Jefferson also had a dining room with a window like opening into the kitchen with a counter – like a fast food drive thru opening – except that there were two wooden panels instead of a glass window in this opening, one controlled from the dining side and an other controlled by the kitchen, from which food was passed through with a brief time-out between the two panels. So that food could be passed to the dining room without anyone necessarily seeing the kitchen. Was that done out of elitism or embarassment? Did he not want to see the kitchen, or was he trying to hide the slaves from his visitors? So, it’s like the naming of these schools is like the potential purposes of those wooden panels, is it not?.

Jefferson liked to hide things, too. His Monticello home has no grand staircase, because he thought staircases were a waste of place, so he placed his staircase into the wall with a door to it like a closet door…. So, what was Jefferson hiding, the kitchen or the slaves, or both?….. (….and in so doing, is not the Board hiding something as well?)

#10 Peter "Mega" Pischke on 01.24.19 at 5:05 pm

Lewis, I for one love the names chosen. And honestly the pics were both politically correct and positive towards the legacy of the founding generation.

I don’t know much about Congressman Reifel and I bet most kids around here don’t as well. This should help them learn more about him.

Jefferson was a slave owner, but he inherited that position. He could never do manumission because he sucked with money. It was illegal in his home state of virginia to free your slaves if you had any debt, which as you probably know Jefferson has loads and loads.

Still, he provided a way to free his slaves sometime after his death with a bit of money to secure them.

Could Jefferson done better: yes, he probably should of sacrificed his comfort and prestige so he could live by his principles.

But most importantly is that Jefferson pushed the cause of freedom forward from where it had been stuck for eons.

Jefferson is still a good guy, just an imperfect one.

#11 Big John Small on 01.24.19 at 6:01 pm

We rallied for “Williams & Ree Middle School”… I know it had several votes… we talked about it on Sunny Radio and had several listeners tell us they “voted” for it.

Would love to know how many names were suggested and what they were! 😉

#12 l3wis on 01.24.19 at 6:27 pm

It would have been nice to see at least the top ten. It’s funny how they chose two men who both fought hard for Democratic principles yet how those names were chosen was less than ‘democratic’. It was ran just like the task force meetings if you watch them. The administrators and elites in the room got what they wanted, and they know if this would have been an open process, the elites would have not gotten what they wanted.

#13 D@ily Spin on 01.24.19 at 6:57 pm

Will the next high school be named President Twitter?

#14 LJL on 01.24.19 at 7:25 pm

3wis gets pissed when I troll him, but he’s got the bait in the water with this post

#15 "Very Stable Genius" on 01.24.19 at 9:18 pm

“Williams & Ree Middle School” actually makes some sense, because Williams & Ree once had a road manager, who had worked for McGovern as his state field director.

I love Peter’s eloquent comments, too. Sarah and KellyAnn could use his help.

And if we call one Twitter High someday, what will be the mascot?…….How about the Twitter Spankers?….. No, that would be the name of the dance team, wouldn’t it?….

#16 scott on 01.25.19 at 8:38 pm

hard to believe voters in south dakota actually voted for a native american back in the 60’s. that would never happen today.

#17 l3wis on 01.25.19 at 9:48 pm

He did have an ‘R” behind his name 🙂

#18 "Very Stable Genius" on 01.26.19 at 3:36 pm

1960 was an open seat when Reifel first ran, because then Rep. McGovern was running against Karl Mundt. Politics was tight back then, thanks to McGovern’s efforts, with Ralph Herseth as an incumbent Democratic governor running for re-election that year.

Although, McGovern and Herseth lost in 1960 by competitive and close margins, the Republicans probably ran Reifel because he covered all of the bases for them, in order, to win. Plus, Reifel was only running in east river, which limited his native vote, but it also lessened a discriminatory west river vote, too.

After Senator Case’s death in a his re-election year of 1962, I have always wondered what would have happen had the Republicans nominated Reifel to replace Case and not Bottum. Bottum was an unknown from Rapid City, who was picked after a contentious state convention to replace the late Case as a compromise candidate. McGovern went on in the fall of ’62 to defeat Bottum by only 700+ votes. Had McGovern had to run against incumbent Congressman Reifel, it probably would have been a different story; and in turn, a different story for McGovern’s political career and the future of the Democratic Party in the 1970s as well.

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