NOVEMBER 24, 2015


orn in Nisqually, Washington, March 9, 1931, Frank left school after 9th grade, working construction jobs before joining the U.S. Marines for 2 years in the early 1950s. His 1945 arrest for fishing, and 50+ later arrests for the same, began his leading role in what became the Pacific Northwest “fish wars” in 1960s and ’70s. Finally, in 1974, Federal District Court Judge George Boldt ruled that the Nisqually and other Northwest tribes had a right to catch up to half the salmon in their traditional waters and they would also become co-managers of the fishery with the State. The Boldt Ruling was later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. For over 30 years, he chaired the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. Frank received the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism in 1992. In awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously, President Obama said of Mr. Frank: “Billy never stopped fighting to make sure future generations would be able to enjoy the outdoors as he did.” The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge was renamed for him in 2015. Frank died May 5, 2014, in Nisqually.

  William Yardley, “Billy Frank Jr., 83, Defiant Fighter for Native Fishing Rights,” The New York Times, 5/9/2014.  Retrieved 6/3/2022, Billy Frank Jr., 83, Defiant Fighter for Native Fishing Rights - The New York Times (
Photo:  Ecotrust, 11/13/2014.  At 2012 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award ceremony in Portland, Oregon. Permissive Use. 

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