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    Celebrate Billy Frank Jr. Day on March 9
    Posted on 03/03/2021
    A photo of Billy Frank Jr

    Celebrate Billy Frank Jr. Day on March 9

    SPS students, who are also participants in the Clear Sky Native Youth Council and Urban Native Education Alliance (UNEA), advocated for and drafted a resolution recognizing and honoring the life and legacy of Billy Frank Jr. Thank you to these young people for their initiation and hard work to bring forward this important formal recognition.

    On February 24, the Seattle School Board unanimously approved Board Resolution 2020/21, and designated March 9, 2021 as a day of observance recognizing and honoring the life and legacy of Billy Frank Jr. Billy Frank Jr. - Salmon Celebration Day, March 9, will be celebrated by students across the district.


    Billy Frank Jr. and Tribal Sovereignty

    Under Article VI of the United States Constitution, Federal Treaties are "the supreme Law of the Land" and Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution lists Indian Tribes as sovereigns recognized by Congress. In 1859, Congress ratified the Point Elliott Treaty, which had been signed in 1855. Washington State discriminated against Native people, the people of the Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Nisqually, Puyallup, and other Pacific Northwest Tribes, and infringed on their Treaty fishing rights, established in the Point Elliott Treaty. Tribes were not able to fully exercise their fishing rights and able to continue their Treaty-affirmed lifeways.

    Billy Frank Jr. played an instrumental role in the Fish Wars of the 1960s and 1970s, culminating in the landmark Boldt decision that affirmed tribal fishing rights. Billy Frank Jr. and many other Native leaders, such as the Muckleshoot whose ancestral lands are within the SPS catchment area, fought to protect their fishing rights by suing the State of Washington, spurring a series of protests led by tribal communities. Hundreds of Native people in the Pacific Northwest were incarcerated for protesting the rights affirmed in their Treaties to fish in "usual and accustomed" places.

    Salmon is now and has always been central to the cultures, diets, religions, identities, and societies of Pacific Northwest Tribes, and the continued harvest of salmon is critical to maintaining the culture and lifeways of all Washington citizens. We all owe a great debt of gratitude to local heroes like Billy Frank Jr. and all those that fought in the Fish Wars. Because of this effort to not only protect cultural lifeways but also the entire Puget Sound ecosystem, we enjoy the salmon and their impact on our environment today.

    Billy Frank Jr. Day Resources

    To learn about Billy Frank Jr., visit the SPS American Indian Resource Library's Billy Frank Jr. Day online resources collection.

    The American Indian Resource Library collection includes a variety of information for teachers, students, and the SPS community, including:


    Videos, Books, Webpages, and Articles

    • sčədadxʷ (salmon): an animated short video honoring Billy Frank Jr. (Video)
    • Messages from Frank's Landing: a story of salmon, treaties, and the Indian way by Charles Wilkinson (Book)
    • The life and legacy of Billy Frank Jr. – Billy Frank Jr. Organization (Website)
    • To Tell the Truth: the collected columns of Billy Frank Jr. (Download)
    • Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission News: Billy Frank Jr. Memorial Issue (Magazine)

    Seattle Public Schools supports Native students. Due to a long history of institutional racism in education, the accomplishments, affairs, and contemporary experience of the First Peoples of Washington state has been consistently omitted from public school curricula and/or portrayed inaccurately. Seattle Public Schools is committed to racial equity and creating inclusive and accurate teaching and learning in our classrooms.

    Native Education at SPS

    The SPS Native Education Department supports:

    • Since Time Immemorial, providing elementary and middle school students with an education on the background and current affairs of the 29 sovereign nations within the boundaries of Washington State.
    • Native American students, their families, and community. The Native Education Department and Native Education Parent Advisory Committee work to ensure schools are actively supporting students’ cultural identities and strengths – critical to academic success. This happens in a variety of ways, including šǝqačib a model program, created to provide identity safety safe learning environments. Supports include core content, student support services, and opportunities for native youth to build on cultural and personal gifts.
    • A Native Library, and collection of Native American books and materials (student and teacher resources). The Native Library is physically housed at Meany Middle School in the Native American Education resource room and online and accessible to all educators in SPS.

    These are just a few of the Department's offerings. Learn more about the SPS Native Education.