Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) received word this afternoon of the passing of a friend that was a true warrior in the struggle to protect our treaty rights, environment, and human rights of Indigenous Peoples. Walter Bresette, Red Cliff Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) of the Loon Clan died this Sunday, February 21, 1999 morning in Duluth, Minnesota. Bresette lived on the Red Cliff Ojibwe reservation in Wisconsin. During the pass year, Bresette has been active in the development of the Great Lakes Regional Indigenous Environmental Network (GLRIEN), as well as other initiatives such as the Anishinaabeg Millennium Project. Bresette founded the Anishinaabeg Millennium Project which sought to reclaim and redefine a vision for the future of the Anishinaabe Nation.
Bresette recently was appointed as a board member to both Project Underground and Honor The Earth Campaign. IEN will miss this Ojibwe brother - uncle - father - and we send our prayers out to his family, children, friends, and loved ones.
All My Relations,
I had the privilege and pleasure of working with him closely on many occasions over the years. It was always good to share time and conversation with him, and to discuss ideas and strategies for addressing the many struggles confronting our Peoples. I can't believe that he will not be here in the same way next time I want to talk something over with him. Of course his spirit and example of selfless dedication will live on to inspire us always.
Please convey the heartfelt condolences of the International Indian Treaty Council staff and Board members to his family and his associates, who must be feeling very deeply the pain and shock of losing such a one from this world so suddenly. Our heart and prayers goes out to them. I hope it helps for them to know how fondly he will be remembered by all of us who knew him.
Respectfully, Andrea Carmen, Executive Director,
Elsie Herten & Florence Bald Eagle,
It was with great sadness that I learned today of Walt Bresette's death.
He will be greatly missed by all who treasure the diversity of cultures and life on earth.
It was an honor to know him.
I saw the club on a number of occasions, and heard Walt speak of it and how it came to him on others. But on one occasion I was thrilled to see Walter use the club in a righteous act of self-defense.
We were on the outskirts of Ladysmith, after RTZ had finished surrounding "their" property with a 10-foot-high cyclone fence and begun the grisly process of scraping topsoil into huge mounds. On top of one of these mounds, in full view of the traffic on Highway 27, a large United States flag had been planted.
Having assembled outside one of the gates leading into the mine site, the two dozen or so protesters proceeded to sing, chant, and generally carry on. No arrests had been planned for this day, and it seemed we'd all soon be heading home, one more unremarkable demonstration under our belts.
A few members of our group had broken away and were walking the fenceline, apparently sizing up the site's security. Suddenly my eye was caught by some unusual movement to my left, and I turned in time to see the first of three (I think there were three; this was eight years ago and my memory is hazy) protesters engaging in a little extra-curricular activity.
First Walt, then Jan Jacoby, then Sean Guilfoyle dropped to the ground inside RTZ territory, and as they did, each made a beeline for the hill with the flag on top. As the rest of us watched and cheered, Walt took a sharp right and began running toward a giant earth moving machine parked near the base of the hill. He ran up to one of the mammoth tires and, jumping as high as he could, "counted coup" on that monster machine with Black Hawk's club.
Walt then joined his two comrades, who had begun taking down the flag. After it was (more or less) properly folded, they ran back and tossed it over the fence and into the hands of Linda Craemer, who appeared surprised at suddenly becoming an accessory to this little crime.
Walt's explanation afterwards was that he felt an exploitive foreign company had no right to fly an American flag over land that they were about to desecrate and that the three fence climbers had not intended to keep the flag, only to safeguard it until its rightful owners could be found.
His was and is a wonderful spirit. Long may he live in our hearts.
Lilias Jones Jarding
Walt was a fighter for justice, decency, sanity in a world that seems to have gone mad with greed and exploitation. His voice and gentle but strong spirit were an inspiration to me. Though I only met him once or twice, his spirit was often with me and his works were a guide to my own work. May he journey in peace on the great road...