Stories, Memories, and Condolences About Walt
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  Tribute Dear All: 

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 
Indian Reservation. 

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 
appreciate. 

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 
him. 

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. 

Sincerely, 

James Jinhan Cha 


From Carol Edgerton  caedgert@facstaff.wisc.edu 
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.

These are 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:

Walt Bresette 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 
communities."

"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.

Carol Edgerton 



 

From: Don Albrecht  dalbrech@mail.northland.edu 
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. 

Don Albrecht 
Bayfield 
 



 

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  brmanski@students.wisc.edu 
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" <bearclaw1@hotmail.com> 
Date: Mon, 22 Feb 1999 05:26:24 PST 

Sandy, 

I am Delokwos (Dee) Ward, of Missouri of The Ward and Sanders of the 
Tsalagi Nation. 

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. 

Delokwos(Dee)Ward 
Activist Office Mo. 
636 CloverLane 
Farmington, Missouri 63640 
ph#573-756-7980 

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 
currents.... 

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 
storytime. 

Delokwos Ward  UsdiYona Adanhdo(LittleBearHeart) 
(Delores) 
 



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