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James G. Abourezk papers

Identifier: MS-001

Content Description

This collection contains the papers of James Abourezk. The Congressional Activities record group documents his career as a member of the United States House of Representatives (1971-1973) and United States Senator (1973-1979). The papers consist of correspondence, speeches, photographs, news releases, administrative files, and additional items relating to Abourezk's terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

The Wounded Knee, 1973 record group, consists of correspondence, interviews, photocopied material, and printed materials extending from 1972-1983. The bulk of the collection concerns the occupation of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in 1973 and the actions of the American Indian Movement and the U.S. government during the period of the occupation. Additional materials relate to the occupation of Alcatraz Island in 1969 and the takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Building, in Washington, 1972.


  • Creation: 1970 - 1983


Conditions Governing Access

This collection has some restrictions. Researchers are advised to contact the Archives and Special Collections prior to visiting. Researchers must obtain Mr. Abourezk permission before using this collection. Contact the Archives and Special Collections to obtain Mr. Abourezk contact information and to obtain directions for transmitting the permission to the archives. In addition, some constituent files may be restricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers must obtain a signed Permission to Publish Form if they wish to reproduce, broadcast, or otherwise disseminate information from published and unpublished works held by ASC. Permission to reproduce, broadcast, or otherwise disseminate information materials from ASC does not constitute permission from the holder of copyright or literary rights. The researcher is responsible for securing permission from the copyright holder to publish or reproduce content from materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

James G. Abourezk, born in Wood, South Dakota, was the first Arab-American to serve in the United States Congress. Growing up on the Rosebud Reservation, he attended schools in Wood and Mission. After high school, Abourezk served in the United States Navy from 1948-1952. He graduated from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology with a civil engineering degree in 1961. He attended the University of South Dakota Law School and was admitted to the South Dakota bar in 1966. After a successful election on the Democratic ticket, Abourezk served in the United States House of Representatives from 1971 to 1973. He won the 1972 campaign for the Senate seat vacated by Karl Mundt. Abourezk served in the Senate from 1973 to 1979 when he decided not to run for re-election. He was chair of the Senate American Indian Policy Review Commission (1976), chair of the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs (1977 to 1979), and a member of the Senate Budget, Judiciary, and Energy and Natural Resources committees. His signature legislation was the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA, 1978). He supported Arab causes in the Middle East, he fought for Indian rights, and he was one of the leaders in a filibuster against a natural gas deregulation bill. After leaving the Senate, Abourezk practiced law in Washington, D.C. before returning to South Dakota.


565 Linear Feet (approximately 1071 document boxes, 10 record cartons, and 10 assorted sizes)

Language of Materials



This collection contains materials primarily related to the work of James G. Abourezk during his time as United States representative and senator from South Dakota.


The James G. Abourezk Papers has been arranged into two record groups: Congressional activities and Wounded Knee, 1973. The Congressional activities group has five series: Correspondence, News releases, News clippings, Miscellaneous, and Other. Material is not sorted or arranged beyond the series level. The Wounded Knee, 1973 group has seven series: Correspondence, Manuscripts, Interviews, Documents, Court Transcripts, Printed Materials, and Newspaper clippings.

James G. Abourezk papers
Mary Ellen Ducey for record group Wounded Knee
1999 for record group Wounded Knee
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the USD Archives and Special Collections Repository