This week Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed HB 1372 into law, which would honor the late Billy Frank Jr. with a statue in National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. Frank was an environmental and civil rights hero in Washington State.
Billy Frank Jr., a member of the Nisqually tribe, was a tireless advocate for tribal rights and salmon recovery. His civil disobedience raised awareness of how tribal members’ reserved treaty rights to fish were being violated by the state of Washington. Frank’s advocacy is credited with leading to the historic Boldt Decision, which recognized the treaty tribes of Western Washington as co-managers of salmon and their habitat. The bill’s passage formally replaces the statue of Marcus Whitman, one of the two statues currently representing Washington State in statuary hall.
Robb Krehbiel, Northwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:
“In the Pacific Northwest, salmon defines the culture, environment and economy. Few people have done more to recover these endangered fish than Billy Frank Jr. Honoring him recognizes the importance of Native American rights and conservation in the State of Washington. Billy Frank Jr. encouraged people to tell their story. Defenders of Wildlife hopes that Billy’s story will continue to inspire future generations to fight for wildlife and justice.”