Senate passes bill to rename Nisqually Refuge after Native American activist Billy Frank Jr.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Senate has passed a bill to rename the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge at the south end of Puget Sound near Olympia, to bear the name of Billy Frank Jr., a northwest activist who fought for Native American fishing rights.

The bill also proposes building a memorial in the refuge commemorating the Medicine Creek Treaty of 1854.

The idea came from U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, a Washington Democrat and longtime friend of Frank. It was cosponsored by the entire Washington state delegation.

With President Barack Obama's signature, the bill would be officially rename the refuge the "Billy Frank Jr., Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge."

The National Park Service would maintain the Medicine Creek Treaty National Memorial.

Frank used that 1854 treaty in his fight for Native American fishing rights. He was arrested more than 50 times for "illegal" fishing in the Nisqually River before a change in the law.

He died in spring 2014 and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.