Benny “Ben” Sherman Sr


Funeral services for 84-year old Benny “Ben” Sherman Sr are Sat, April 13, 2024 at 9:00 at the Mother Butler Center in Rapid City, SD, with Pastor Alton Yellow Boy officiating and traditional Lakota services by Richard Moves Camp

Burial is at the Sherman Family Plot ub Kyle, SD

Visitation is Friday from 2:00 – 9:00 PM at the Mother Butler Center in Rapid City with evening services starting at 7:00.

Online condolence may be left at

Benny William Sherman Sr, Oglala Lakota, was born on Sep 10, 1939 in Kyle, SD on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to Mark and Alice (Kemery) Sherman.  Benny Sr made his journey to the Spirit World, peacefully on April 5, 2024 at the Monument Health Hospital in Rapid City, SD.

Ben was the second to the oldest of 8 children: Mayda Sherman, Marilyn Pourier, Richard Sherman, Amy Wynn, Mark Sherman, Gerald Sherman, and Marlon Sherman.  

He lived in Kyle in his younger years and attended Kyle Day School, then went to Oglala Community High School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school, and graduated in 1954.  

After high school, Ben attended college at the South Dakota School of Mines, University of Michigan, and West Coast University in Los Angeles. 

He received his engineering license from the State of California and worked in the defense/space industry, including some time spent at Cape Kennedy on spaceship launch programs. He received his Masters in Management degree from the University of Phoenix School of Business. 

Ben was a lifelong student, an avid reader, an immaculate researcher, and a cherished educator, contributing to vital restoration of Indigenous ways of being, intergenerational knowledge transfer, and cultural continuity.

Ben was a pivotal figure in Native business and economic development, leveraging his roles to foster growth and connectivity within and outside Native communities. 

As president of Medicine Root, Inc, he offered key management and marketing consulting across various tribal nations and organizations, notably impacting the InterTribal Bison Cooperative, Flathead Nation, Cherokee Nation, First People’s Fund, Pawnee Nation, Four Times Foundation, and The Lakota Fund.

His leadership extended over 13 years as President of the Western American Indian Chamber, where he championed Indian business and economic advancement nationally, particularly in the Native tourism sector. 

Ben’s efforts were instrumental in establishing Denver as a hub for Native tourism development through initiatives like “Indian Country Tourism USA” and the founding of the Native Tourism Alliance.

Beyond tourism, Ben’s advocacy for Native social and economic improvement shone through his work in developing regional Indian art markets and managing significant art projects, such as one at the Denver International Airport. 

His expertise was recognized as a board member of Business Enterprises for Sustainable Tourism (BEST) and as Chair of the Colorado Scholarship Coalition, where he focused on providing educational opportunities for needy populations.

Ben was regularly asked to speak on natural land-based tourism development and community planning, the incorporation of tribal values into tourism development, natural plants and medicines, traditional star knowledge and Native arts & culture. 

He also conducted teacher training sessions in public schools on the subject of American Indian history, culture, art, music, literature and contemporary affairs.

Ben’s expertise extended to traditional star knowledge, which he shared through public speaking and teaching, highlighting the importance of incorporating tribal values into tourism and education. 

His profound impact on the First Peoples Fund, from board chairman to Native Artist Professional Development Teacher, was pivotal in fostering the independence and success of Indigenous artists across the nation, contributing to the organization’s growth and the development of values-based training materials for Native artists.

In 2012, Ben furthered his vision by founding the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance (WINTA), advocating for the well-being of Indigenous communities through tourism and supporting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. His global advocacy work spanned continents, underscoring his commitment to Indigenous rights and cultural preservation.

WINTA operates on principles that support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  Ben advocated for these principles in all his international relations, including traveling to represent Indigenous people in Turkmenistan, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Ireland, Zambia, Namibia, Kenya, South Africa, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Japan and Taiwan.

In 2018, we almost lost Ben to a severe heart attack, but because of miraculous CPR efforts by a security guard, wonderful medical support, and prayers from around the world, including his traditional, Lakota ways, Ben was brought back to us to continue to serve Indigenous peoples worldwide.  

Six months after being moved out of ICU, he was testifying on behalf of Indigenous Rights at the United Nations.  It was at this time that Ben was given his Lakota name, Mato Ape, Strikes the Bear. 

Ben was a leader of his tiospaye, his extended family, and was known for consistently bringing all the branches together for family reunions, ensuring that the depth and breadth of our relationships remained strong.  

Sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews, granddaughters and grandsons all have stories of special visits when Ben showed up to represent the family for significant moments in their lives.  

Ben embodied generosity, always sharing what he had to ensure that others could go on with strength.  Known for his humility, integrity and kindness, Ben’s memory will be carried forward by his family and Indigenous artists, activists, and leaders world wide.

Ben would regularly attend his “church”, the foothills of the Rockies outside of Boulder, CO, where he would listen to the songs of the elk, learn from meadowlark, and then share his wisdom gained:

“My solitary hikes into those hills have been the best kind of medicine through the years, never failing to bring me a certain peace and balance that is otherwise hard to find down here among the clamoring population…I have found a calm inner center by visiting the hills and canyons where I can settle into unci maka, grandmother earth, and communicate directly with the source of all things.”

Ben is survived by his daughters Amy Sherman and Edie Sherman;  grandchildren Ryan Sherman, Darshann Mesteth, Dana Stoldt, Brian Sherman Jr, Samuel Swanson, Arianne Dowty, Danielle Arpan, Philip Pond, Leslie Pond, Marlena Pond, and Samantha Pond; along with 20 great- and great-great grandchildren.

Ben was preceded in death by his sons Benny Sherman Jr &  Brian Sherman Sr; daughters Joy Sherman & Shiloh White; his brother Charles Sherman; and his parents Mark & Alice Sherman

Pallbearers are Benny Sherman III, Ryan Sherman, Brian Sherman Jr, Walt Pourier, Ben D. Sherman, Miles Harry, Ron Ferguson, and Rudy Sherman.

Honorary pallbearers will be Brendon Albers, and all friends & relatives.

Arrangements entrusted with the Sioux Funeral Home of Pine Ridge, SD.