2021 Honoree: Billy Frank Jr.

Billy Frank Jr.

Established by World Forestry Center in 1971, Leadership Hall was created to honor those who have advanced our understanding of forests and their importance to society.

Billy Frank Jr. was a Nisqually tribal member and a leading advocate of civil and tribal rights in the Pacific Northwest. Frank helped organize many “fish-ins” and demonstrations in the 1960s and 1970s which led to the historic Boldt decision of 1974, and the following landmark U.S. Supreme Court “Boldt Phase II decision” in 1979. The Boldt decisions upheld and reaffirmed the rights of Washington’s Native American tribes to fish in accustomed places and allocated 50% of the annual catch to treaty tribes. A key role for Frank was to persuade tribal leaders to trust the forest landowners to keep their end of the bargain. The process and result became known as the Timber, Fish, and Wildlife Agreement (TFW).

A steadfast advocate of tribal rights, Frank was arrested more than 50 times throughout his life for protesting the restrictions imposed on Nisqually fishing practices. He is heralded as a changemaker for tribal rights and conservation in the Pacific Northwest and as a wise, determined, and charismatic leader. He fought to protect forests and salmon streams from extreme overuse and development. Frank’s determination and activism brought necessary attention to these issues and are considered a cornerstone of their success.

Frank has been awarded an array of commendations for his service, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama and the Washington State Environmental Excellence Award. His board service includes over 30 years as chair for the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, chair and founding board member of Salmon Defense, and longtime trustee of The Evergreen State College.

Room with wooden floors, walls, beams, chests of drawers and carved totem pole

Support a Sustainable Forestry Champion

If you would like to support Billy with a gift, please donate online, or contact Merrit Thompson at mthompson@worldforestry.org.

Your gift will help assure Billy a proper place among the celebrated leaders in Forestry Leadership Hall, but it will also support our public programming, which addresses the most pressing issues affecting the health of our forests and communities and deepening the public’s engagement with forestry.