Education | National

Kevin Abourezk: Omaha language advocate passes on at age 58

Mark Awakuni-Swetland. Photo from University of Nebraska State Museum

Mark Awakuni-Swetland, an advocate for preserving the language of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, passed away on Monday. Native reporter Kevin Abourezk looks back at his efforts:
Awakuni-Swetland’s accomplishments were many and likely will have longstanding impact on the Omaha Tribe.

He was hired by UNL in 2000 after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in anthropology, history and Great Plains Studies from UNL and a doctorate in anthropology from the University of Oklahoma.

At UNL, he created a Native language program and assembled a team to design instructional materials for the Omaha language. He partnered with Omaha tribal leaders and researchers at Wayne State College and UNL to develop an Omaha-Ponca digital dictionary and other reference materials for the Omaha language.

At the time of his death, he and his team were completing an Omaha language textbook to be published by the University of Nebraska Press.

“It’ll be done soon,” his wife, Donna, promised those gathered Thursday. “Something that was dear to his heart was the Omaha language.”

Get the Story:
Kevin Abourezk: Longtime Omaha language champion, UNL professor dies (The Lincoln Journal Star 2/26)

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