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A Native American Leader's Legacy Lives on at Nisqually Wildlife Refuge

July 18, 2016

Top Northwest officials and a member of President Obama’s cabinet will gather Tuesday for the renaming of a wildlife refuge near Olympia in honor of one of the region’s best known Native American leaders.

The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is being renamed in honor of late Nisqually tribal leader Billy Frank Jr.

In the 1960s and ‘70s, Frank helped organize protests, or “fish-ins,” to advocate for south Puget Sound tribes’ fishing rights based on the 1854 Medicine Creek Treaty.

At the time, the Washington State Fish and Game Department had been arresting American Indians for fishing in waters outside of their reservations. The period became known as the Fish Wars.

Frank was arrested more than 50 times before a federal judge ruled in the tribes’ favor, confirming their right to half the region’s catch.

The treaty-rights advocate died in 2014.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will be joined by local tribal leaders and other officials for the unveiling of the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday, July 19, at 11 a.m. The refuge is located at 100 Brown Farm Road NE, Olympia, Washington.

To learn more about Billy Frank Jr., see coverage by EarthFix and its public media partners:

Puget Sound Wildlife Refuge Renamed in Honor of Tribal Leader Billy Frank Jr.

Billy Frank Jr.: Tribes Must Try To Bring The Salmon Back (An interview with KUOW)

3 Northwesterners To Receive Highest Civilian Honor



Billy Frank, Jr., known for his decades of defending Washington tribes' treaty rights, fears the rights will be worthless as overfishing, dams and climate change take their toll on the habitats salmon need to survive.

Katie Campbell

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