Nisqually Tribal Elder Billy Frank has developed quite a reputation for his stewardship of Nisqually Valley environmental issues and has been acknowledged for his decades of work to educate the public. Mr. Frank wrote a column in the September 15 edition of the Nisqually Valley News titled “Being Frank – Be motivated by ‘the map'”. Mr. Frank states:
“If you see me speak these days, chances are you’ll see “the map.”
For many years, I’ve scrawled little maps on napkins and place mats in conversations over coffee to help demonstrate the challenges salmon have to face to migrate between the Pacific and their streams of origin.
In most of those cases, the sketchy little maps did seem to help enlighten individuals to the expanding environmental challenges we all face in the Pacific Northwest. They have been good tools to demonstrate challenges tribes face in maintaining their culture, livelihoods and identity as a people.
Today, even with greatly reduced fishing, those challenges are far tougher and more plentiful than ever.
No napkin or place mat map will hold all the problems.
A recent public opinion poll, which revealed that 80 percent of the people here think Puget Sound is healthy, made the need for public education more than evident. But how can so many people be convinced to open their eyes to the truth about Puget Sound?
We’ve published tons of newsletters, sent out thousands of news releases, sponsored public forums, invested in television specials, set up exhibits and produced curricula for the schools – all saying that pollution and habitat destruction are big problems, and that everyone who lives here has a responsibility to help deal with them.
Needless to say, the results of the public opinion poll were disappointing.
So what can we do differently?”
See the full transcript of Mr. Frank’s column online.
“Billy Frank Jr., a Nisqually Tribal Elder, has been Chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWFC) for 22 years and has played a central role in securing fishing rights for Native American groups,” quoting Stewardship Partners.
The Olympian reported this in August of this year,
“Five species of Puget Sound salmon and the orca are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. Overall, 1,000 Puget Sound species are in decline.
‘There’s no steelhead and no wild coho salmon anymore,”‘lamented Nisqually tribal elder Billy Frank Jr., executive director of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. ‘And the orca whale – he’s starving to death.'”
The Nisqually River Council of which Mr. Frank is a contact:
“The original objective of the Nisqually River Council was to bring together diverse stakeholders to develop and implement a Nisqually River management plan that would protect the river and its fish. Over the last 20 years, the council has implemented most of that plan and, upon its completion, will continue to work to resolve divisive issues surrounding timber harvesting, land use, salmon recovery, and water allocations. The council is also evolving to protect, not only ecosystem health, but also local economic vitality.”
The Institute for Tribal Government
says this of Mr. Frank.
[Ed. Note: At what point is the Nisqually Tribe’s objectives and stewardship of the Nisqually Valley going to be
challenging to the unbridled growth of the central Valley’s largest city, Yelm? What say you?]
Nisqually Valley Tribe’s Billy Frank
Photo from Institute for Tribal Government website