Native fishing rights advocate passes away

by May 6, 2014Front Page, NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments

Billy Frank, Jr., a member of the Nisqually Tribe, passed away on Monday, May 5.  According to information from NCAI, “Billy spent his life fighting for our right to fish and protect our own waters and fiercely advocated for the complete fulfillment of treat commitments by the federal government.”

President Obama said in a statement, “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.”

NCAI president Brian Cladoosby commented, “Indian Country has lost one of the greatest leaders who fought to protect salmon, water, and quality of life for our people. The loss of a Billy as our teacher, mentor, and elder is immeasurable. Our very way of life is only possible because of the battles Billy fought – without his personal sacrifices, tribes in the Northwest would look very different. My own life would be very different if I had not had been blessed by Billy’s teachings, example, and love. My prayers go out to his family and the many, many others whose lives he touched.”

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said, “Indian Country and the nation lost a true giant as Chairman Billy Frank has walked on.  His lasting legacy will be felt for generations in the hearts and minds of those he touched over an entire life dedicated to serving others. Two weeks ago, the entire room fell silent at a tribal summit held at the Suquamish reservation in Washington to listen as Billy spoke forcefully and passionately about the need to tackle the growing threat of climate change.  Billy shared a great sense of urgency that we come together as one people to work toward practical solutions to address its impacts.”

– One Feather staff report