Billy Frank Jr., a Nisqually elder, fisherman and key figure in the fight to protect Native American fishing rights and salmon habitat, passed away at home on May 5, the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission announced.
Mr. Frank was first arrested for salmon fishing as a boy in 1945. He was beaten and jailed repeatedly as he and others staged “fish ins” demanding the right to collect Chinook and other salmon in their historical waters, as guaranteed under treaties when they ceded land to settlers in the 19th century. By the time celebrities like Marlon Brando showed up on the Nisqually River to assist them in 1964, the salmon wars had raged for decades.
In 1974, U.S. District Judge George Boldt affirmed the tribes’ right to half of the fish harvest — and the nation’s obligation to honor the old treaties. In 1993, another court decision extended that affirmation to the harvest of shellfish.
By then Mr. Frank already had become one of the nation’s most eloquent and influential tribal champions.
LINK (via: Seattle Times)
Just last week Billy had this to say about the recent Puget Sound hatchery steelhead agreement.
“Lost and damaged habitat, not hatcheries or harvest, is what’s driving wild steelhead and salmon populations toward extinction,” Frank said. “The focus needs to be on fixing and protecting habitat, not fighting over hatcheries and the fish they produce.”