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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Billy Frank, Jr., 1931 - 2014

Posted by on Tue, May 6, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Billy Frank, Jr.
  • Laura Mott, Office of the Washington Secretary of State
  • Billy Frank, Jr.

Yesterday, Gary Chittim summed up Billy Frank, Jr.'s life this way:

From the violent early days of the fish wars to the celebration of the removal of the Elwha Dams, Billy Frank was there. He would often say, the battle is never over. Never stop fighting. He never did.

Frank was a member of the Nisqually Tribe, and his death at 83 brought expressions of sorrow and gratitude from both of Washington State's Senators, the governor, and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who called him "one of the great civil rights champions of our time." In a statement, President Obama said:

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Billy Frank, Jr. – Chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission and a member of the Nisqually Indian Tribe. Billy fought for treaty rights to fish the waters of the Pacific Northwest, a battle he finally won in 1974 after being arrested many times during tribal “fish-ins”. Today, thanks to his courage and determined effort, our resources are better protected, and more tribes are able to enjoy the rights preserved for them more than a century ago. Billy never stopped fighting to make sure future generations would be able to enjoy the outdoors as he did, and his passion on the issue of climate change should serve as an inspiration to us all. I extend my deepest sympathies to the Nisqually Indian Tribe, and to Billy’s family, and to his many friends who so greatly admired him.

An oral history project commemorating Frank's life and work can be found here.


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