Washington, D.C. | February 23rd, 2023 – We at the ADC ask that you keep James Abourezk and his family in your thoughts and prayers. James founded ADC in 1980 and was our first chairperson, and led the organization to become the preeminent grass-roots organization of Arab Americans. He is currently facing serious health challenges.
In a statement, his family shared, “James, who will turn 92 on February 24, 2023, has been released from a hospital in Sioux Falls to receive hospice care at his home. He will be in the care of a hospice team from a Sioux Falls hospital, along with his wife Sana’a Abourezk and his family members.”
James is an American attorney and is the first Arab American to serve as a United States Senator, representing South Dakota. Before serving as Senator, he was in the U.S. House of Representatives, also representing South Dakota.
James has played an essential role in leading the Arab American community for many years, significantly contributing to our role and history in this country. He has paved the way for others through his work and trailblazing leadership. James is also recognized as a leading advocate for the rights of Native Americans – his most notable achievements in the U.S. Senate being writing and having successfully passed the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act.
We are deeply saddened to hear of his recent health struggles and ask that you keep him in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. We ask that you join us in sending positive energy and healing thoughts to James Abourezk and his family.
James was born at home in Wood, South Dakota, which was at one time part of the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation in 1931. His parents, Charles and Lena Abourezk, immigrated from Lebanon. He is married to Sioux Falls restaurateur Sanaa Abourezk and has four children, Charles Abourezk, Nikki Pipe On Head, Paul Abourezk, and Alya Abourezk. He also has one stepdaughter Chelsea Machado, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.