News Releases

Medal is the nation’s highest civilian honor, will be presented November 24th

(Washington, D.C.) – Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) applauded the White House’s announcement that Billy Frank, Jr. will be named a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient posthumously, and William Ruckelshaus will receive the same honor in person later this month. Billy Frank, Jr., a member of the Nisqually Tribe, fought for both Indian treaty rights and environmental stewardship throughout his lifetime. His efforts helped lead to tribal co-management of salmon resources in Washington state and reaffirmed that the United States must honor treaties made with Native American tribes. William Ruckelshaus, who now lives in Medina, served as the first and fifth administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and worked to bring the public’s voice into the decision-making process, while tirelessly advocating for improved public health and environmental issues as a leader in the recovery of salmon populations and the cleanup of Puget Sound. He is now chairman of the William D. Ruckelshaus Center at the University of Washington and Washington State University, which provides problem-solving services.


I am so proud to see two strong leaders from my home state of Washington being recognized,” said Senator Murray. “Billy Frank, Jr.’s fight for Native American civil rights helped redefine our nation’s commitment to tribal treaty rights, and we should all look to William Ruckelshaus’s example on environmental issues as we face future challenges.”


The Presidential Medal of Freedom is awarded to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. See a full list of recipients here.