Former US Senator James Abourezk has died

Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 4:54 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - James Abourezk died Friday afternoon at his home in Sioux Falls.

Earlier this week, his family said he was receiving hospice care at home after spending time in the hospital.

Abourezk served in the U.S. House from 1971-1979.

He was the first Arab American to serve in the Senate. He was also the founder of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. He co-authored several bills, including the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Abourezk turned 92 years old Friday.

Abourezk’s wife owns Sanaa’s restaurant in Sioux Falls. The restaurant posted on social media that they will be closed until Monday.

South Dakota Democratic Party Chair Randy Seiler issued the following statement:

On behalf of the South Dakota Democratic Party, I would like to express my sincere condolences to Sen. Abourezk’s family and friends on his passing. Sen. Abourezk was a true South Dakotan whose talent and determination took him from Wood, South Dakota to the United States Senate. South Dakota couldn’t have asked for a better representative to the nation and the world than Sen. Abourezk.

Sen. Abourezk was a steadfast advocate for South Dakota’s tribal nations as the founder and Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the author of the Indian Child Welfare Act. His public service continued long after his time in the United State Senate, including his work as co-founder and Chairperson of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and his continued advocacy for the Indian Child Welfare Act.

“Sen. Abourezk dedicated his life to serving others. That service led to a lasting legacy that continues to impact the lives of so many in South Dakota, across the country, and around the world. We are all fortunate he led such a long and impactful life, and his presence here in South Dakota will be sorely missed.

Randy Seiler