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Billy Frank, Jr., RIP

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Billy Frank, Jr., the Nisqually fishing rights advocate, has died at the age of 83. Frank was a key figure in pressing Native American fishing claims in Washington during the 1960s and 1970s. This was a time with plummeting salmon runs thanks to industrialization, stream bed and water degradation, and massive overfishing. Of course, the region’s native peoples had absolutely no responsibility for any of this. But as has often happened in American history, hunting laws punished the poor and people of color for subsistence hunting off a population in decline because of white overharvesting. By the 1970s, increased white liberal support for Native American rights led to a lot of real gains, including fishing rights in the Northwest. Frank was a central figure in this history and deserves to be remembered.

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