Heritage Center


Where the Salmon Run: The Life and Legacy of Billy Frank Jr.
"I tell my people get ready. That guy, the salmon, he's coming back." - Billy Frank Jr.

Decades ago, in a far different America, salmon wars erupted on Northwest rivers. Unknown tribal members held up Indian treaties and took a stand for fishing rights. One was a Nisqually Indian named Billy Frank. "I wasn't the Billy Frank that I am now," the Nisqually tribal leader told reporters in 1984. "I was a bitter person." Says friend Tom Keefe, "When I look at Billy Frank, and I guess I know more about him than most people, I can say there is a guy who decided that he could change the world by changing himself."

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  • Biography at-a-glance
    Born: March 9, 1931, Olympia, Washington

    Parents: Willie Frank Sr., Angeline Tobin Frank

    Married: Norma McCloud, 1952; Sue Crystal

    Children: James “Sugar” Frank, Maureen Frank, John Elliott, Willie Frank III

    Military: U.S. Marines, 1952-1954

    Offices: Vice Chairman, Nisqually Indian Tribe; Chairman, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC)

    Affiliations: Board of Trustees, The Evergreen State College, 1996-2003; Leadership Council, Puget Sound Partnership, current term 2011-2015

    Major Awards: Common Cause Award for human rights efforts (1985); Washington State Environmental Excellence Award, State Ecological Commission (1987); American Indian Distinguished Service Award (1989); Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Service Award (1990); Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism (1992); American Indian Visionary Award, Indian Country Today (2004); American Robert Marshall Award, The Wilderness Society (2010)

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A rare interview
with Billy's father
Willy Frank Sr.
Why Billy's
strategist Hank
Adams is "the most
important indian"
Where the Salmon Run: The Life and Legacy of Billy Frank Jr.
Michael Harris photo