Walter Bresette, spokesperson for the
Anishinabe Ogitchida, environmental activist, and
dear friend, passed away on Sunday. The wake is on
Wednesday, the funeral on Thursday, on the Red Cliff
Some of you were blessed with the opportunity
to know Walter. Others only knew of him. Yet none
who came into contact with this man could help but be
touched by his immense charisma, his brilliant and
sincere oratory, and his genuinely passionate care for
the natural world and the well being of all who lived in
it. Speaking for myself, I can only say that, of all the
people I have ever known, he was the one who could
bridge the walls and obstructions of any cultural
difference, not only reaching out to form new
friendships in his own life, but bringing together
masses of people who would otherwise never know of
each other's existence. He was an amazing man, one
of the last remaining warriors of our time. I was
blessed with his friendship, one that altered the
course of my life and awakened in me a
consciousness and a conscience of which I had been
unaware. He not only accepted me freely, without
reservation, without judgment; he honored that within
me which I myself could not recognize, let alone
Yet, more than a role-model, more than a mentor,
more even than a friend, he was for me a bridge to
another life, another way of being, another standpoint
from which to receive the world. He taught --or rather,
showed --many of us a new way of living, of joining
with humanity and the world around us. For me,
Walter represented both the light that dispelled our
darkness and drew forth the best within our hearts,
and the loving, far reaching fabric that connected so
many in the world, and held us together. One could
not help but honor the truth in Walter's presence; one
could not help but be touched by this caring man's
immense feeling; and one could not help but to love
Those of us who were blessed to walk the path
with this man now mourn our loss. But the spirit of
this warrior lives on. "A Light shines in the
darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." In
the case of Walter Bresette, how true.
James Jinhan Cha
Date: Mon, 01 Mar 1999
As one who has
been taught many things and greatly inspired by Walt's words over the past ten
years, I'd like to share a few from a speech he
gave at Treehaven (near Tomahawk, WI) at a Midwest Treaty Network
conference concerned with expanding the fight against the opening of
northern Wisconsin, northeastern Minnesota, and Upper Michigan (Chippewa
Ceded Territory) to mining interests and to building a new, broad-based
coalition of groups to work on the issue. The coalition that eventually
emerged became known as "WATER." I think the speech was made on Oct. 31, 1992.
excerpts. The words are as vital and pertinent today as they
were six-and-a-half years ago, and they apply to all of us, regardless of
the issue we're working on:
Speech at Treehaven
"I think there are
consequences to the whole theme of political
correctness....I say that because I carry with me a lot of inconsistencies,
and I want to state the obvious that I bring to the table, I think,
important resources for you to consider as a partner of this process. I
think we need to be forever vigilant over whether we're excluding people at
the expense of our own political correctness to be a part of the council
fires to find solutions."
"The issue for me
is balance....the premise here is that with balance
we'll all have relative health. The theory is that the reason the mines in
northern Wisconsin are functioning and the reason threats to the region
exist through oil wells and gas wells in Lake Superior and paper mills for
the region has less to do with people's support of that type of technology
or economic development and more, I think, to do with the imbalance that we
have generally in our communities and generally in our institutions. And so
I think one of the strategies, one of the long-term strategies--the 7th
generation strategy has as much to do with the balancing from within and
adjacent to ourselves and our own psyches as it does with affecting the
next piece of legislation and perhaps more in this case because we have
gotten ourselves so imbalanced in this process that we're running around
actually quite fearful these days that if we don't get to the next public
hearing or the next legislative debate...that somehow the world is going to
end by our not interacting with this debate that's going on. So I think we
really are ourselves expressing this imbalance that exists within our
"Is this really
about mining in northern Wisconsin? And I don't think it
is at all--I really don't. Mining is just like spearfishing and that's to
say it brings out the issues...The issue is economics. The issue is
imbalance, and I think that the only solution that we'll be able to achieve
for the long-term will be a solution which allows for those folks to
be--that allows for some kind of sustainable economy.
"And so that's
what I would encourage you in your discussions to consider
whether any of those folks are really pro-mining at all but maybe looking
for jobs, looking for something else. If the mine's the only thing there,
maybe that's the only choice. Maybe we could offer them some alternative
choices as a way of getting them to move from their position. So I think we
need to somehow remind each other that we're all related."
"We really need
new and different ways beyond the tried and proven
ways--in addition to those--we need those, too--to really effect the kind
of change that we need. The earth doesn't need it--doesn't need it--it's
going to be happy when we're all gone. So we need to really become honest
about that. Earth will be real happy when we're gone. And as the Kogi say
from the mountaintops of the Columbian nation, we need to change. And if we
don't, things are just going to get worse and worse and worse. So if we
really care about our children--not my children, not you caring about my
children--if you really care about your children, you need to see that
child as a mom and as a grandmom. And you need to somehow hold that great,
great, great, great, great, great grandchild in your arms today. You need
to be able to do that and really understand that though this fight is fun
for us, that that's really what this struggle is all about. You need to
somehow come to terms with those grandchildren way, way down the road.
Because if you don't come to terms with those grandchildren way, way down
the road, they won't be."
"Frank Montano, my
friend, my flute-playing friend, said we are our
grandparents' dreams. They had a dream. They made passionate love. Can you
imagine them? Making love? And out of that incredible moment of passion,
kissing, intercourse, touching, feeling, we come."
I will miss his
wisdom and his friendship very much. He was always "out
there," doing the work, and there was a sense that everything could work
out as long as he continued. I think that his great-hearted spirit just
wore his body out--way too early. We have a lot of work to do to assure
that the fires he "set" within us continue to burn. We know the direction.
He gave us the map.
From: Don Albrecht
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999
There is so much one could say about Walter Bresette -- he will live on
in our lives and work forever because his presence was such a powerful,
sometimes quiet, sometimes noisy, force. I am deeply saddened by his
walk to the other side because his physical manifestation added vitality
wherever he went.
Here are two quick Walt Bresette anecdotes.
In 1977, Walt and I were working on an Ojibway calendar -- he drew
illustrations of the various moons while I took care of the letterpress
printing. He was quite the excellent graphic artist, you know. One
day, Walt explained to me that a little boy in Connellís drugstore (then
in a large old building on Rittenhouse Avenue in Bayfield) saw him and
exclaimed, "An Indian! Look, Mom, a real Indian!"
By this time, of course, Walt was chuckling in that bright-eyed way of
his. The little boy came right up to Walter and asked point blank, "Are
you an Indian?" "Yup, I'm an Indian all right," Walt said with a laugh.
Everyone knew Walt as an an entrepreneur and activist, able to organize
on behalf of worthy causes as easily as, . . . well, as walking to
Madison from Red Cliff. One late night we sat around a table drinking
cups of coffee and dreaming up a new organization aimed at celebrating
the accomplishments of people ìon the fringes of society, who didn't
quite mesh with the fabric of "normal" society."
We enjoyed discussing what constituted "normal." Both of us started
files for this new organization, but it never amounted to much besides a
lot of good talk -- a hallmark of Waltís presence on this earth. The
name of it was going to be "The Aardvark Society." At least it would
have been number one in the alphabetical department.
I am saddened beyond words...A true Ogichidaa has stood by his spear and
led all of us with inspiration and knowledgeable questions and answers.
I will always remember him in his many roles, one of which we were
protesting the Catholic involvement in our treaty rights decision, he
walked up right behind the altar where the archbishop at the Catholic
church in Milwaukee had just asked for everybody to shake hands for peace
when Walt offered his hand to the stunned archbishop.
Miigwetch for the information.
With respect, Charlotte Hockings
Walt - Earth Day '97
From: ben manski
Date: Sun, 21 Feb 1999 23:57:18 -0600
"There's a revolution going on! It's to take back the government of
Wisconsin from corporate influence! This is exemplified by Tommy Thompson
and Tony Earl who are just tiny players, but have managed to take control
of your government."
- Walter Bressette, Earth Day, 1997
From: "Delokwos,Delores Ward" <email@example.com>
Date: Mon, 22 Feb 1999 05:26:24 PST
I am Delokwos (Dee) Ward, of Missouri of The Ward and Sanders of the
I am very saddened to hear of Walts death, I too am an activist for Ward
Valley, among other causes so important to Mother Earth and the people
and animals upon her, it is so hard to continue the fight day after day
and have so many people that doesn't support any causes nor care but the
fight to stop the waste dumps ect. still goes on, so my heart goes out
to anyone tring so hard.
Wado, for posting please stay in touch. send my deepest prayers to his
family, and again thank you for caring so much to post.
Activist Office Mo.
Farmington, Missouri 63640
Like attracts like....If we give up,so will others....
If we cry so too will they....But if we decide this IS a new
beginning,others will take courage........
We influence other people,our attitudes send out ripples of
feelings,like the scents of flowers that float on the air like
What we think sets the stage for is to be! We can change our
words,our minds, our attitudes,and stop crying....
We can act like our prayers are already answered and take the steps
to show we believe it!!!!
When the early morning sunbreaks through the far side of the woods
the dark places are lighted and much healing takes place....
And so it is with us!
Great Spirit,you lived first,and you are older then all NEED!
"Black Elk" circa 1800's
I live by these words and they have truly changed my life,
my childrens lives, and they Will change my grandchildren's lives
I have three grandchildren and already they have this
wise advise hanging on their bedroom walls!we say it together at
Delokwos Ward UsdiYona Adanhdo(LittleBearHeart)
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