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Billy Frank Jr., tribal fishing activist, dies

May 6, 2014 • Business


FILE – In this file photo from the late 1960s provided by the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, Billy Frank Jr., left, fishes on the Nisqually River near Olympia, Wash., with his half brother Don McCloud. Frank, a Nisqually tribal elder who was arrested dozens of times while trying to assert his native fishing rights during the Fish Wars of the 1960s and ’70s, died Monday, May 5, 2014. He was 83. (AP Photo/Courtesy Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, File)

SEATTLE (AP) — Billy Frank Jr., a tribal fisherman who led the “fish wars” that restored fishing rights and helped preserve a way of life for American Indians in the Northwest four decades ago, died Monday at 83.

The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission and the Nisqually Tribe near Olympia, Washington, confirmed his death. The cause was not immediately known.

Frank was arrested more than 50 times for “illegal fishing” between boyhood and middle age, during what came to be known as the fish wars. Initially driven to fish at night and hide his canoe to avoid authorities who regarded them as poachers, he and others took their fight public in the 1960s, inviting observers to witness their sometimes violent arrests.

Patterned after the sit-ins of the civil rights movement, the campaign was part of larger, nationwide movement for American Indian rights, Login to read more

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