A bill to rename the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge in honor of the late Nisqually statesman, Billy Frank Jr., passed in the U.S. Senate Monday and is now headed to President Obama’s desk.
The U.S. Senate on Monday approved legislation to rename the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge in honor of the late Billy Frank Jr. and build a memorial in the refuge commemorating the Medicine Creek Treaty of 1854, according to U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell’s office.
The bill — the Billy Frank Jr. Tell Your Story Act — passed the House earlier this year and now heads to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law, according to a news release. The act was unanimously supported by the state’s congressional delegation and also backed by the National Congress of American Indians, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, it says.
The bill will also require the Department of Interior to coordinate with the Nisqually, Muckleshoot, Puyallup, and Squaxin Island tribes in developing educational materials for the new national memorial.
The refuge is to be renamed the Billy Frank Jr. National Nisqually Wildlife Refuge, which is next to the Nisqually Reservation, where Frank was raised and lived until his death in May 2014 at 83. Frank fought to enforce the Medicine Creek Treaty — particularly the provision entitling Indian tribes to half the fish catch.
Frank was a charismatic, larger-than-life civil-ights hero, champion of Indian treaty rights and advocate of environmental stewardship.