2006 Wallace Stegner Award Recipients

Event Date: Nov 02, 2006
Event Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Glenn Miller Ballroom, UMC

 

Native American activists John Echohawk and Billy Frank, Jr., were honored by the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Center of the American West on Nov. 2 at 7:00 p.m. at the Glenn Miller Ballroom.

The Center presents the Wallace Stegner Award, its highest recognition, to individuals who have made a sustained contribution to the cultural identity of the West through literature, art, history, lore, or understanding of the West. Terry Tempest Williams, author of Refuge, received the award last year. Past recipients include John Nichols, N. Scott Momaday, Rudolfo Anaya, Vine Deloria, Jr., and Alvin Josephy. This year the Center presented the Wallace Stegner Award to John Echohawk and Billy Frank, Jr.

Billy Frank, Jr., has spent much of his life advocating for human rights for all, particularly the Indian people of western Washington. A Nisqually tribal member, Frank grew up fishing for salmon and steelhead on the Nisqually River, and he was on the front line when the battle over treaty-guaranteed Indian fishing rights erupted in the 1960s and 1970s. His perseverance landed him in jail more than 40 times, but this also helped guarantee Indian fishing rights when the “Boldt Decision” was made in the late 1970s. Cooperation, not confrontation, is what Frank advocates now. As chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC), Frank has worked to achieve a number of key agreements between the tribes and various local, state, and federal officials that further strengthen treaty-guaranteed fishing rights and environmental protection laws. His involvement in arenas like the unique Timber-Fish-Wildlife Agreement, the Chelan Agreement (a water resources planning document), and the Centennial Accord have placed Frank in a powerful leadership role for Indian and non-Indian alike. It is a leadership role that has been recognized from Olympia to Washington, D.C.

John Echohawk, a Pawnee, is the Executive Director of the Native American Rights Fund. He was the first graduate of the University of New Mexico’s special program to train Indian lawyers, and was a founding member of the American Indian Law Students Association while in law school. Echohawk has been with NARF since its inception, having served continuously as Executive Director since 1977. He has been recognized as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America by the National Law Journal since 1988 and has received numerous service awards and other recognition for his leadership in the Indian law field. He serves on the Boards of the American Indian Resources Institute, the Association on American Indian Affairs, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. B.A., University of New Mexico (1967); J.D., University of New Mexico (1970); Reginald Heber Smith Fellow (1970-72); Native American Rights Fund (August 1970 to present); admitted to practice law in Colorado.

The handmade Stegner Award certificate featured a personalized inscription that reflected the recipients’ distinguished accomplishments and included a $1,500 cash award. The Stegner Award presentation featured an interview and discussion of these men’s careers conducted by Patty Limerick, Professor of History and Environmental Studies and Chair of the CU-Boulder Center of the American West, and Charles Wilkinson, Distinguished Professor of Law at CU-Boulder. This award was made possible by the generosity of the Olson Family.