Without Reservation

Benjamin Reifel and American Indian Acculturation

Without Reservation


$29.95, Hardback
ISBN: 978-1-941813-14-0

"From its title onward, Without Reservation is a book that invites debate about the past, present and future of Native Americans."—Seth Tupper, Rapid City Journal (read the entire review and interview here)

“This fascinating book does not disappoint. Well-written and well conceived, it contains the broad context of Indian-white relations, federal Indian policy, and national, regional, and local politics. I know much about this subject, but I learned a great deal more from Flynn’s work.”
—Michael L. Lawson, author of Dammed Indians Revisited: The Continuing History of the Pick-Sloan Plan and the Missouri River Sioux

As the first Lakota to serve in the United States Congress, Benjamin (“Ben”) Reifel (1906–1990) made a career of straddling two distinct cultures.

A bilingual member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, Reifel often found his ideas challenged by American Indian activists. He advocated for his people to become self-reliant citizens, not by abandoning traditional values, but through education and integration. In the end, Reifel viewed himself as a modern Indian leader, versed in his native tongue and culture, college educated, and looking beyond reservation boundaries.

Throughout his earlier career with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and in Congress during the 1960s, Reifel worked to bring economic success to the reservations and to South Dakota as a whole, dividing his time between agriculture policy and Indian affairs. A moderate-conservative Republican, he quickly rose to prominence on the House Appropriations Committee and, with Senator Karl E. Mundt, is responsible for the placement of the United States Geological Survey’s Earth Resources Observation Systems (eros) Data Center near the city of Sioux Falls.

In this premier biography of Reifel, Sean J. Flynn offers an alternative to depictions of American Indians as victims of eighteenth- and nineteenth century conquest. Contributing to a long-neglected topic in American Indian studies—the lives of twentieth-century American Indians—Flynn showcases the life of a man who prospered in the American mainstream without forsaking his racial identity.

Listen to the South Dakota Public Broadcasting interview with Sean J. Flynn by clicking here.


About the Author