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Large crowd at memorial for Billy Frank Jr.

Large crowd at memorial for Billy Frank Jr.

Photo: clipart.com

AP News

SHELTON, Wash. – Thousands of people attended a funeral service for Billy Frank Jr., the Nisqually tribal elder who fought for Indian fishing rights in Washington state and was an advocate for salmon habitat.

Frank died May 5.

He was 83.

Frank figured prominently in Northwest fish-in demonstrations of the 1960s and 1970s that eventually led to sweeping changes in how Washington manages salmon and other fish.

Little Creek spokesman Greg Fritz says about 6,000 people attended the service Sunday.

Crowds also watched the service on jumbo screens from a large tent and other areas of the resort.

The service featured traditional Indian Shaker Church prayers, a presentation of a folded U.S. flag for the family — Frank had served in the Marine Corps — and remarks from more than 20 tribal leaders and elected officials.

Frank was arrested more than 50 times for “illegal fishing” during the protests that came to be known as the fish wars.

Patterned after the sit-ins of the civil rights movement, the campaign was part of larger nationwide movement in the 1960s for American Indian rights.

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