On Monday, a hero to many of us died. Billy Frank Jr. was a veteran of the fish wars, and although his contributions were many, his efforts a big part of achievements in tribal fishing rights, protection of salmon, and environmental stewardship, he was fighting an uphill battle all the way.
Up until the day he died, it turns out, when his last installment of Being Frank (his column as head of the NW Indian Fisheries Council) was posted. In his 80's, he was getting up every day and working to improve the fisheries and the environment, benefitting not just the treaty tribes, but all of us. At an age when most of us would hope to be relaxing, he kept pushing.
His will be big shoes to fill. Maybe even too much for one person, but fortunately, Uncle Billy touched the lives of multitudes. Obituaries mentioned his associations with state and federal leaders, with presidents even, and included statements from leaders and luminaries, but he also talked with everyone else. Little school-kids, fishermen, members of many tribes, even the very bureaucrats who could make his life painful. He spoke out for what he knew to be right, for his people and for the rest of us, too.
So all of us should carry on for him. That last article of his I mentioned above was about the dangers of an oil terminal where trainloads of crude could load their cargo onto tankers at Grays Harbor. In addition to his, as always, well-reasoned arguments against permitting such nonsense, let me add my little voice: the dredging and construction required for the project would likely obliterate the ancient remains of fish weirs and other sites left by ancient people who managed fisheries successfuly.
You can add your voice by visiting his post, and heeding his call to comment against this oil terminal and other projects that put our environment at risk. His voice will reverberate for generations, but it is time for us to step up and add our own.