Indian country has lost one of its strongest, and most respected, voices.

Billy Frank Jr. spoke at an event to celebrate the removal of a dam on the Elwha River in 2011 (Photo by Richard Walker/ICTMN).

Billy Frank Jr. spoke at an event to celebrate the removal of a dam on the Elwha River in 2011 (Photo by Richard Walker/ICTMN).

Nisqually elder Billy Frank Jr. died Monday in Washington state at the age of 83.

As Indian Country Today Media Network reports, Frank fought for treaty rights in the Northwest – he was arrested more than 50 times while protesting for treaty fishing rights – and sovereignty throughout Indian Country.

He “guided opposing sides to agreement on how to protect natural resources, helped bring down two dams on the Elwha River (and) produced an Emmy Award-winning series on Indian country,” Richard Walker reported at ICTMN.”

He chaired the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission for 34 years, served as a trustee of The Evergreen State College for seven.
Frank, whose honors included the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, was as comfortable in the Oval Office as he was in a tribal chairperson’s office.

“We in Indian country, collectively, will have to pick up the mantle,” state Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, said. “He was a giant in Indian country and we’re going to miss him.”

- Vince Devlin

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