Stories, Memories, and Condolences About Walt
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Here's a black and white of Walt and his chum Frank Koehn, a Bayfield County Supervisor and co founder with Walt of the Lake Superior Greens. Both these guys walked 320 miles last summer straight down the state of Wisconsin! This photo is by Sue Erikson.


          

  I met Walt in 1996 at a University of Wisconsin conference on environmental resistance movements  organized by Prof Bron Taylor (Oshkosh, Religious Studies). 

               Sitting at the meal table on the last night, Walt said to me, "The trouble with this conference is there's not enough SPIRITUALITY." 

               "We could fix that," I suggested. 

               He looked at me in a manner that required no explanation. "See you upstairs shortly," he said. "I'm off to the car to get my medicine bundle." 

               Upstairs I arranged with the chair, Baird Callecott, for Walt and me to make our contribution last in the panel of conference speakers. When the time came, Walt went and shut the main doors and organized everybody into a circle. I started drumming and my Irish colleague also from the Centre for Human Ecology here in Scotland, Tara O'Leary, played haunting flute music on the penny whistle. 

               Walt then explained that the doors being shut is how it now is in America. "We're all inside" he said, "whether we see it or not." "We're all native now. The doors are shut." 

               He then proceeded to smudge and bless everybody, welcoming them into their spiritual responsibilities for this place. 

               The event would have been a controversial one for some people. They were neither warned nor invited to participate. Walt was spirit-moved to do what he did. Tara and I were spirit-led to assist him in this joint spontaneous Native-American / Celtic ceremony. 

               The events were recorded by student TV and subsequently broadcast in Oshkosh. 

               I made my own record in a passing mention in a poetic piece I wrote about identity in Scotland - "The GalGael Peoples of Scotland". The mention of him is in section IV. It is published in Nature Religion Today, Edinburgh University Press, ed. Pearson, Roberts & Samuel, and I think it's also out in the USA in Indiana University Press. 

               (The Gal-Gael Peoples of Scotland: On Tradition Re-bearing, Recovery of Place and Making Identity Anew a contribution for Nature Religion Today, by Alastair McIntosh)

(IV) Re-visioning 
We are become again a people 
known or unknown touched 
by rose of Scotland little white rose 
that smells so sharp and sweet it breaks the heart 
by eagle, deer, wild cat and long-gone bear 
here in spirit where extinct in flesh 
Strong totems for recovery - we need strong totems at this time 
Remember ... that three years before 
Culloden massacred gasp from clansfolk's tribal voice 
the last wolf was shot extinct in Scotland 
Nature's death precursing culture's "thickest night" 
Culloden - last battle mainland British soil 1746 
internal colonial conquest 
blood mingling inseparably soaked through moss Drumossie moor 
friend and foe and which is "us" and which is "them" now? 
Where the "Gaeltachd" wither "Galltachd" 
 Unavoidably mingled 
for a' that and a' that 
sacrificing, sanctifying, down to an ice-age cleans'ed strata 
that is both cultural and in depth, archaeological 
long stinking but now compost-rendered for new growth 
Something poised 
 ... both psychic and somatic 
 ... genetic and prophetic 
Remnant sprig from taproot of antiquity 
awaiting spring to bud re-formed 
and Blossom as is needed in our agitated times 
... a cultural cultivation ... 
Indeed! Let us observe that 
the capacity of nature and of human nature 
to be hurt 
is exceeded 
in the fullness of time 
only 
by the capacity to heal ... 
And that must be joy's greatest cause for hope

So you ... our friends to whom this statement is addressed 
You, we know, will understand. 
Take you, First Nation Peoples, North America 
uneasy unasked hosts to our Diaspora 
You, Chippewa protest leader challenging Exxon's mines, Walter Bresette 
says ... "We are all native people now. The door is shut. We are all inside." 
You, Mi'Kmaq superquarry warrior chief Sulian Stone Eagle Herney 
says ... "Your mountain, your shorelines your rivers and your air 
are just as much mine and my grandchildren's 
as ours is yours." 
You, great teacher huntress Winona La Duke 
walking troubled by the Minnesota lakes 
who rejects "genocide by arithmetic" 
that allows "indigenous" belonging 
to be governmentally defined by statutes staturing racial purity 
Rejecting thresholds like one-sixteenth blood relationship 
to be a Sioux or Cree or Cherokee 
for human love will always 
mingle, meld, and make of prismed light 
a golden melanged mockery of all pretensions 
to any presumption 
of racial purity 
that violates sunlight's loving magic dance 
a dance insisting 
as it pleases, teases 
Equally to be white light, coloured light 
or warm absorbing dark that holds all light



 

Dear friends, 

In memory of Walt Bresette, I would like to share this poem which his 
presence and vision actually inspired.  I wrote it while at the Protect the 
Earth Gathering at Mole Lake on July 27, 1996 after Walt had joined our 
campfire the night before to share his stories.  We will ALL miss him 
dearly, but we can always draw strength from his vision of a better world 
to be.  - John 



Abe Lincoln Meets Walt Bresette over Exxon's Dead Ore Body 

"In God We Trust" 

It was early dawn and it was on the road 
With that familiar and now somewhat tarnished profile 

Good Ol' Abe Lincoln 

Yep, there's copper in dem der North Woods 
Too bad all that other "STUFF" is in the way 
...water weeds, swamp lands, blanket asses... 

Still - if you hold a coin close enough to your eye, 
it can blot out the entire sun 

Bottomline blinders for the Exxon 
as it does its corporate calisthetics 

Grab...Gorge...Growl...AGAIN! 
Grab...Gorge...Growl...AGAIN! 
Grab...Gorge...Growl...AGAIN! 

I picked up the cast off penny and placed it in my pocket 

Soon enough, though, I could feel it burning a hole 
Sulfuric acid oozing down - 
burning my leg, poisoning the water, 
fouling the earth, searing my soul 

Last night I saw another wellknown weathered face - 
that of Walt Bresette - Anishinabe activist, Gaia guardian 

His voice crescendoing in the campfire 
His vision traversing seven generations 

Everyone was there in solidarity: 
old, young, black, white, twig, feather, fur, shell 

Their strength and courage fueling the eternal flames, 
climbing into the midsummer starlight, scattering to the four winds 

Their home, OUR HOME, would be here long after the bloated Exxon beast 
belched its last breath of putrid profit 

"Exxon, what's that?" 
- the great great great great great great great gandchildren 
of Walt and Abe will wonder as they frolic in the North Woods 

and corporate palentologists will scurry to unearth evidence of 
the rumored monster - 

Where are the bleached bones? 
Where are the toxic tailings? 

and with a little luck and a lot of hard work, 
they'll find nothing but a worn copper coin 

"E Pluribus Unum" 

John Peck  jepeck@students.wisc.edu 


 

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