President Obama to award Medal of Freedom to Billy Frank Jr.

Billy Frank Jr., 1931-2014. Photo from Facebook

President Barack Obama will present the Medal of Freedom in a ceremony at the White House on Tuesday.

The late treaty rights activist Billy Frank Jr., who was a member of the Nisqually Tribe, is among the 17 recipients of the nation's highest civilian award. The ceremony takes place at 5pm Eastern and will be broadcast at

“Billy Frank Jr. spent his life fighting for treaty rights for tribes and Indian people that had long been denied," said Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington). "He was a fierce guardian of our cherished salmon, the Puget Sound, and the rich natural diversity that is revered by all of us who call Washington state home."

To honor Frank's legacy, Cantwell introduced S.2326, the Billy Frank Jr. Tell Your Story Act, on November 19. The bill designates the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge as the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.

The measure also establishes the Medicine Creek Treaty National Historic Site to mark the signing of the 1854 Treaty of Medicine Creek, which Frank fought to protect.

“Billy Frank, Jr. just wanted to fish. He was a fisherman to his core, and that’s how he wanted history to remember him. Everyone who knew Billy would want us to remember him as the legend that walked – and fished – among us," Cantwell said on the Senate floor. "Given his life, his legacy, and the way he changed Washington state and the nation, it is only right that we honor his legacy by forever linking his name to the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge."

The House version is H.R.2270.

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