Happy Birthday, Billy Frank Jr.

One of the greatest American native leaders of the last 50 years. His influence cannot be overstated. His work led to the incredible explosion of money and projects to save what remains of our great salmon runs, which of course means restoring the earth and protecting it. He was a speaker that always had the perspective to understand what was really needed. He also had passion. In 2012 I audio taped Billy Frank speaking at the Northwest Straits Annual Conference. The link to that audio file below. His message hasn’t been dimmed by time.

Billy Frank, Jr. [b. March 9, 1931] was a tireless advocate for Indian treaty rights and environmental stewardship, whose activism paved the way for the “Boldt Decision,” which reaffirmed tribal co-management of salmon resources in the state of Washington. Frank led effective “fish-ins,” which were modeled after sit-ins of the civil rights movement, during the tribal “fish wars” of the 1960s and 1970s. His magnetic personality and tireless advocacy over more than five decades made him a revered figure both domestically and abroad. Frank was the recipient of many awards, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Service Award for Humanitarian Achievement. Frank left in his wake an Indian Country strengthened by greater sovereignty and a nation fortified by his example of service to one’s community, his humility, and his dedication to the principles of human rights and environmental sustainability. (BillyFrankJr.org)

Billy Frank Jr. Honored With National Day of Recognition – Nisqually Valley News

It is great to see that this is turning into a national holiday. One of the most inspiring people I’ve ever personally met.Thoughts of his words and the times I met him keep me going when the going gets tough and it feels like nothing will change.

Last Friday members of the Washington state Congressional delegation passed a resolution designating March 9, the day of Billy Frank Jr.’s birth, as an official national day of remembrance of his life, legacy and accomplishments. Also on Frank Jr.’s birthday on Friday was a dedication and blessing of a park and trail in Frank Jr.’s name by the Port of Olympia. U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) and Patty Murray (D-Washington) and U.S. Representatives Denny Heck (D-Washington) and Derek Kilmer (D-Washington) introduced a resolution to honor Billy Frank Jr. (Nisqually Valley News)




The Legend Leaves the Room: Billy Frank Jr. passes.

It is hard to imagine the world of Northwest environmental protection without Billy Frank Jr’s voice being heard. I will let the eulogies from the Tribes carry that, and will add them as they show up, but from my non-Tribal perspective, he loomed over the landscape like a giant among us. It was his (and a few others like Robert Satiacum, etc.) fight that blossomed into Fish Wars and the ultimate Boldt Decision, that changed the balance of power in the environment here forever. It brought the voice of the people who cared the most about the environment, the Tribes, his people, to the table of the powerful. And it empowered a generation of Tribal leaders to stand tall and demand what was legally, by US Treaty, theirs.

He never stopped fighting for the environment and it’s iconic and real symbol, the salmon.

If you want to hear his words, here is a good start, both for the history of the Treaty Rights battle, his own struggles, and the perspective of activism on behalf of the Salish Sea. I recorded them as part of the Northwest Straits Annual Conference in 2012. The talk was entitled:”Treaty Rights At Risk”. Introduced by Terry Williams.

Billy’s last column for the Northwest Indian Fisheries

His Facebook page, with his latest issues. Worth a look at what is important now. https://www.facebook.com/billyfrankjr

His autobiography, which is a very interesting read for anyone interested in the NW history.

It was a great honor to have met him briefly on a couple of occasions. He always shook my hand, looked me in the eye and said hi, and thanks. Thank you Billy Frank Jr. for a life well lived. We are all in your debt forever.

“I hope I can live to be 120 because it’s going to take that long to turn this ship around…You got to be very patient at what we are doing…I talked to the President, the Department of Interior, Secretaries of Commerce, the Governor, and a lot of these people are talking the happy talk, ‘Oh we love salmon, we love Puget Sound, we love to go fishing, all the business community loves salmon’ but then no one does anything about it. No one is in charge. So that’s why we are here…If the United States Government doesn’t take back their authority, we are gone. There will be no fish. But this is our country. All of us. So how are we going to make it happen? That change. You have to make it happen. We have to make it happen. We all have to keep the pressure on the United States Government to make that change. We haven’t seen a change yet, but…we are going to see a change. So here we are. You guys are so important to everything we do. I just want to thank you.” Billy Frank Jr. 2012

Good Relationships Don’t Just Happen – Billie Frank Jr

Billie Frank Jr. reflects as we start into the year of the 40th anniversary of the Boldt Decision.

Good relationships don’t just happen. We have to work together to build and maintain a strong foundation of trust and commitment to keep a relationship healthy and strong.

As we mark the 40th anniversary of the Boldt decision this year, the tribal and state natural resources co-managers met recently to re-dedicate ourselves to the principles of co-management.

Read the rest of the article at the NWIFC web site.


Treaty Tribes release the State of Our Watersheds Report – NW Indian Fisheries Commission

If you are into protecting the environment, here’s a good read. In some ways, a good compliment to the Puget Sound Partnership’s “State of the Sound” report

Ongoing damage and destruction of salmon habitat is resulting in the steady decline of salmon populations across western Washington, leading to the failure of salmon recovery and threatening tribal treaty rights, according to a report released today by the treaty Indian tribes.


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