Nation & World

Billy Frank Jr. among Medal of Freedom honorees

Frank Jr.
Frank Jr. Northwest Indian Fisheries Commi

Tribal advocate Billy Frank Jr. will be honored with the nation’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The late Nisqually tribal elder and longtime chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission is among 17 people who will be recognized by President Barack Obama at a Nov. 24 ceremony.

Honorees from the entertainment world include Barbra Streisand, Steven Spielberg, Stephen Sondheim, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, James Taylor and Itzhak Perlman.

Baseball legends Willie Mays and the late Yogi Berra will be honored as well.

Politicians include Sen. Barbara Milkulski, former Rep. Lee Hamilton and the late Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to Congress.

Other honorees include veterans advocate Bonnie Carroll; NASA mathematician Katherine G. Johnson; and former EPA chief and deputy attorney general William Ruckelshaus, known for refusing to fire the Watergate special prosecutor.

Posthumous recipients include civil rights advocate Minoru Yasui.

Frank was on the front lines of the “Fish Wars” in the 1960s and 1970s that led up to the Boldt decision, which affirmed 20 coastal treaty tribes’ rights to half the fish harvest in Washington.

He was arrested more than 50 times during the effort to enforce Indian fishing rights.

He died in May 2014.

The News Tribune contributed to this story