James Abourezk Wiki – James Abourezk Biography
James Abourezk, a South Dakota Democrat who grew up on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, became the first Arab US senator and was known for his quick wit when championing populist causes, died Friday. He was 92 years old.
Abourezk died at his home in Sioux Falls on his birthday after entering hospice care earlier this week, his son Charles Abourezk said. While at the hospice, James Abourezk was surrounded by his wife Sanaa Abourezk and other family members.
James Abourezk Age
James Abourezk was 92 years old.
James Abourezk Cause of Death
Abourezk represented South Dakota to unique terms in the US House and Senate during the 1970s, where he exemplified a brand of Democratic politician known as the Prairie Populist. He fought passionately, and with humor, for those he felt were the oppressed: farmers, consumers, and Native Americans.
Abourezk was the first chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and successfully lobbied for the American Indian Policy Review Commission. He produced a comprehensive review of federal policy toward American Indian tribes and led to the Indian Self-Determination and Educational Assistance Act, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, and the Indian Child Welfare Act, landmark legislation designed to reduce the alarming rate. in which Native American children were taken from their homes and placed with white families.
When the American Indian Movement seized and occupied Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in 1973 to protest the federal government’s treatment of Native American tribes, Abourezk and fellow South Dakota Democratic Senator George McGovern traveled to Wounded Knee to negotiating with activists in a confrontation with federal authorities. law enforcement.
Abourezk also led a failed effort against natural gas deregulation that raised prices for consumers and became an outspoken critic of US Middle East policy. He declined to run for re-election in 1978. “He was brave, he was outspoken,” said Tom Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader who began his political career as an aide to Abourezk.
He added: “I give him great credit for his advocacy for human rights, especially the need to recognize the Arab American community in the United States. He was a lone voice for many years.”US Sen. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, said on Twitter that Abourezk was a “true public servant” who made his mark by standing up for tribes in the state.
Abourezk’s causes often conflicted with the Washington political establishment. He responded with jokes. “He was a great storyteller; he had a great humor; he was witty and people loved being around him,” Daschle said. In Abourezk’s 1989 memoir, he wrote of the Senate: “Where else do doors open to you? Is his journey of him around the world free?
Can he meet with world leaders who would otherwise never allow him into their countries? Do they laugh at your bad jokes and applaud your boring speeches? It is the best place to massage the ego, over and over again. The Senate trappings were another world from Abourezk’s rough childhood on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, where his Lebanese parents had immigrated and ran a general store.
He told colorful stories in his teenage adventure memoirs: he learned to play pool at a local saloon called the Bloody Bucket; he backed his father’s car to reverse the odometer reading for an unauthorized 17-mile trip to see a girlfriend; and he challenged a group of school bullies to a fight to distract them from picking on another student.
He did not win the fight, Abourezk wrote in his memoir, “Advise and Dissent.” But the bullies left him and the other student alone: “It turned out that no one was eager to get tangled up with a sure loser.” Abourezk served four years in the US Navy after World War II. Upon returning to South Dakota, he married his first wife, Mary Ann Houlton, and had three children: Charles, Nikki, and Paul.
He worked a number of jobs, including as a rancher, blackjack dealer and judo instructor, and later earned a degree in civil engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines. His work as a civil engineer took him to California and then back to South Dakota, where he worked at the Minuteman missile silos in the western part of the state. He attended law school and opened a solo practice in Rapid City.
Abourezk ran for South Dakota attorney general in 1968 and lost. But he was not discouraged from entering politics and narrowly won a seat in the US House of Representatives in 1970. Two years later, he jumped to the Senate. During his tenure there, he was a seatmate of former Senators Joe Biden and Edward Kennedy.
He led a delegation from South Dakota, including members of the University of South Dakota basketball team, to Cuba for a game with the Cuban national basketball team. During the trip he met with Fidel Castro. Abourezk also became an outspoken critic of Israeli and US foreign policy in the Middle East after touring the region and visiting his parents’ hometown in Lebanon as a senator.
The position caused him to lose many political allies and he decided to retire from the Senate after only one term. Abourezk returned to practice law in Washington and founded the Arab-American Committee Against Discrimination, where he passionately and colorfully denounced Israeli aggression in the Middle East. He divorced his first wife in 1980.
Abourezk married Margaret Bethea in 1982. They later divorced. He established a law practice in Rapid City where he specialized in American Indian law, but also remained active in international policy advocacy. At an embassy event in Washington, he met Sanaa Abourezk, a restaurateur. They married in 1991 and moved to Sioux Falls several years later, where she opened an award-winning restaurant.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by four children, Charles Abourezk, Nikki Pipe On Head, Paul Abourezk and Alya Abourezk; stepdaughter, Chelsea Machado; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Former Democratic Senator from South Dakota Dies at 92.
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