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Editorial: Billy Frank leaves a lasting legacy

When I became editor of The Vidette, I decided to make the columns of Billy Frank Jr. a regular feature on the opinion page.

Frank, chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, was instrumental in the rights of Native Americans. I had met him several times in my life. Each time, his wisdom shined through and he did such an amazing job explaining his perspective. It is with sadness that the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission announced that Frank died on May 5. He was 83. Friends of the charismatic environmental leader told The News Tribune he had been actively working and attending meetings all last week, and that his death came as a total surprise. In fact, news of his death came two hours after we received his last column on Monday.

Gov. Jay Inslee noted, “He was a selfless leader who dedicated his life to the long fight for the rights of our state’s native people. Billy was a champion of tribal rights, of the salmon, and the environment. He did that even when it meant putting himself in physical danger or facing jail. … He once said, ‘The Creator put that salmon there for it to survive.’ I thank the Creator for putting Billy here to make sure we never forget what he fought for.”

It’s notable that his last column, which we have posted here, adamantly opposes bringing the crude oil export facilities to Grays Harbor. His column is printed in many newspapers. He could have chosen to write about the facilities proposed anywhere in the state, but he wanted to shine a light on the projects here on the Harbor.