Walt Bresette 1957 – 2008
Long-time northwestern Wisconsin Green organizer Walt Bresette, an Anishinabe peace and justice advocate, died February 21, 2008 from a heart attack while visiting friends. A member of the Loon Clan, the 51-year-old Red Cliff Chippewa defended treaty rights and fought to prevent metallic sulfide mining, and to prevent acid from a mining operation being shipped across the state.
A US Army veteran, Bresette was a co-founder of the Witness for Nonviolence, Midwest Treaty Network, Anishinaabe Niijii, Lake Superior Greens, Wisconsin Greens, and was an inspiration to many others.
He was an elegant speaker and writer. Together with Rick Whaley, Bresette wrote "Walleye Warriors: An Effective Alliance Against Racism and for the Earth" The book tells the story about the interracial alliance that rose up in the 1980s at Wisconsin boat landings to protect Chippewa spearfishing, sovereignty, the land, and the water.
Walter and his wife Cass Joy ran a native crafts and art business called the Buffalo Bay Trading Company until a few years ago on the Red Cliff Chippewa Reservation. Their children are Claudia, Katie, and Robin.
At a meeting in Florida during the 1980s, Bresette received a special gift from an alert and agile old woman. It was the war club belonging to the Sauk leader Black Hawk, who more than a hundred and fifty years earlier fought the US Army trying to move him and his people from their homeland. Bresette carried the club to ceremonies, boat landings, mining protests, and schools and churches until his death.
"He was like the north star," a friend says, " He held up the sky over northern Wisconsin and the people followed him."