Statement from Joseph Bogaard, executive director of Save Our Wild Salmon, on the passing of Billy Frank, Jr.
May 5, 2014
“Today, the Pacific Northwest lost a giant among salmon champions, Billy Frank, Jr.
Mr. Frank was a tireless, eloquent, warm, humorous, passionate, unrelenting and effective advocate for salmon and their rivers, for Indian people and Tribal treaty rights.
Mr. Frank's life of activism began as a teenager on the Nisqually River in the 1940s. He rapidly became a respected and formidable leader of the decades-long struggle for the right of tribal people to fish for salmon. His at times confrontational style (Mr. Frank was arrested dozens of times) helped bring national and international attention to injustice against Tribal people. His activities helped lay the foundation for the 1974 landmark Boldt Decision that affirmed the right of Tribes to harvest half of the fish returning to the region’s waters and established Tribes as co-managers of the resource.
In the decades since, his work to recover salmon, restore rivers, bring people together, and effect constructive change has known no equal. He fought steadfastly for salmon, rivers, watersheds, and wildlife on all fronts, and in all venues where progress could be made – in courtrooms, Congress, state capitols, public meetings and one-on-one conversations. Mr. Frank altered forever the landscape of Northwest salmon and Tribal people, and our region is forever changed - diminished - by his passing.
We send our deepest condolences to all of Mr. Frank’s family, friends, and colleagues, a wide circle that encompasses much of our region – and beyond.