Wildlife refuge renamed for Native American leader


This story originally appeared on KCTS9/EarthFix.

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.

In 2014, Frank was honored with Crosscut's first-ever David Brewster Lifetime Achievement Award in Courage.

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About the Authors & Contributors

Ken Christensen

Ken Christensen

Ken Christensen is an associate video producer at KCTS9 in Seattle, Washington, as part of EarthFix, an environmental journalism collaboration led by Oregon Public Broadcasting in partnership with six other public media stations in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Ken has written and produced video for Crain's New York Business, where he launched the publication's video department. Ken has a master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York.