Tribal activist to be memorialized in U.S. Capitol ‘for generations to come’

Tribal activist to be memorialized in U.S. Capitol ‘for generations to come’

A statue of Billy Frank Jr. will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol building to memorialize the work and “legacy” of the Native American leader and environmntal activist.

Tribal and government officials attended a ceremony in which Governor Jay Inslee signed state legislation formally authorizing the ststue. Each state in the U.S. can be represented at the Capitol by two statues of their historical figures.

In addition to his work on environmental issues, Frank was a leader of the Nisqually Tribe and a treaty rights activist until his death in 2014 at the age of 83.

His bust in Washington, D.C. will be installed in the next few years and will replace one of Marcus Whitman, a pioneer missionary. Frank’s will join one already there of Mother Joseph Pariseau, a 19th-century Catholic nun who spearheaded construction of hospitals, schools and orphanages.

Frank’s story “is one of a dedicated advocate who stood against persecution and fought for equality and justice, and to protect our water, land, and air for the generations to come. His statue will serve to honor his legacy and as a call to action for all who see it,” said state Rep. Debra Lekanof, who sponsored the statue legislation and is the only Native American erving in the Legislature.

Lekanoff joined Inslee, Lieutenant Governor Denny Heck, and others for the signing ceremony at Wa He Lut Indian School in Olympia.

“When Billy spoke, people listened,” Inslee said, AND Frank’s “presence” in the National Statuary Hall in D.C. “will keep more people listening for generations to come.”

Frank led a decades-long process of working with the state and other non-Indian groups to manage fisheries, restore habitats, and protect tribal treaty rights.

A statue of the late Billy Frank Jr., a famed environmental and tribal activist, will stand in the U.S. Capitol building.