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2003 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award

Honoree: Billy Frank Jr.

Billy Frank, Jr.
Billy Frank, Jr. (Photo courtesy Northwest Indian Fish Commission) Download a hi-res image: right-click here and select Save As (1.4mb TIF)

"Cooperative management results in increased economic vitality and a healthy environment. Everyone will benefit from rational management of our natural resources that contributes to the overall health and diversity of our ecosystem."
—Billy Frank, Jr.

Billy Frank, Jr. is honored as a finalist for the 2003 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award for his Pacific Northwest fisheries conservation work, indigenous rights advocacy and exceptional leadership abilities. Frank has spent much of his life building bridges of understanding between tribal and non-tribal governments.

Since 1981, Frank has chaired the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC), serving twenty Western Washington treaty tribes in natural resource management. Frank has been involved in the development of programs ranging from the Timber-Fish-Wildlife Agreement to the Chelan Agreement (a water resources planning agreement). He has testified at numerous congressional hearings on fish and wildlife management issues.

Frank is a Nisqually Tribe member and has lived in the Olympia, Washington area his entire life where he has served in a leadership role in the management of the Nisqually River system. He was also a leader in the effort to reassert and secure tribal fishing rights in the late 1960s and early 1970s. His perseverance landed him in jail many times for exercising treaty-protected rights. But his efforts eventually helped reaffirm tribal fishing rights when the U.S. vs. Washington (Boldt) Decision was passed down in 1974 and reconfirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1978.

Frank has served on numerous boards, commissions and committees including the Nisqually Land Trust, Washington State Centennial Commission, Salmon Homecoming Advisory Committee, Puget Sound Shared Salmon Strategy program and the Evergreen State College Board of Trustees.

Among his many awards, Frank received the 1992 Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism and the 1990 Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Service Award for Humanitarian Achievement. He was also profiled in Charles Wilkinson's book, Messages From Frank's Landing: A Story of Salmon, Treaties, and the Indian Way.


2003 Honorees

Jeannette Armstrong

Billy Frank, Jr.

Susan Masten

Chief Nathan Matthew

Agnes Pilgrim


Learn More

About Billy Frank, Jr.:

Frank: Not an isolated case
Indian Country Today, May 16, 2008

Frank: People and salmon: We're in the same boat
Indian Country Today, January 25, 2008

"Shadow of the Salmon"

Billy Frank Jr. American Visionary 2004
Indian Country Today, January 4–April 21, 2006


Astrid Scholz
tel: 503.467.0758
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Jason Pretty Boy
Indigenous Resilience Fellow
tel: 503.467.0803


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