Walter Bresette

Treaty Rights and Sovereignty


How do you make history?

Walter Bresette worked passionately to educate others on issues like sovereignty, American Indian treaty rights, and environmentalism. A member of the Red Cliff Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa (Ojibwe), Walter emerged as a leader during the Northern Wisconsin spearfishing controversies of the 1980s; organizing rallies, making speeches, and publishing his writings on the causes he cared about.

Meet Walter Bresette

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Questions to Consider

Illustration of the geographical shape of the State of Wisconsin with the number 1 superimposed above it

Walter began his activism while he was a teenager, when he attended rallies for civil rights and against housing discrimination. How are these causes part of our lives today? Are there more causes that people are rallying for now? How might you take action about what is important to you?

Illustration of the geographical shape of the State of Wisconsin with the number 2 superimposed above it

During the Walleye Wars in the 1970s and 1980s, Walter documented some of the conflicts between community members having to do with treaty rights to hunt, gather, and fish. What have you learned about Wisconsin’s First Nations and treaty rights? What questions do you have?

Illustration of the geographical shape of the State of Wisconsin with the number 3 superimposed above it

Through his work, Walter sought to recognize and protect the lands and rights of First Nations people. How do you think his work is being continued today?

Read On

Walter Bresette portrait illustration

Walter Bresette: Treaty Rights and Sovereignty

Get the full story with this biography book. Audio files are available on each page if you’d like to listen along!


Project Credits

Becky Marburger

Associate Producer
Joe Young

The Brave Union

The Brave Union

Animation Narration
Audio recordings of Walter Bresette courtesy of Catherine Joy

Audiobook Narration
Jonathan Horne

Audiobook Editing
Kerman Eckes

Catie Pfeifer
Vicki Way Kipp

Translation Services
University of Wisconsin-Madison Cultural Linguistic Services

Educator Support Materials
Mia Forslund

John Vieth
Erika Kachama-Nkoy
Tim Schneider

Charles Barrows

Executive Producer
Dan Kaplan

Special Thanks
Peggy Garties
Kristin Leglar

Story Advisors

Brenda Autz
Park Elementary School
Middleton, WI

Pam Dempsey
James C. Wright Middle School
Madison, WI

Charlene Dupler
Lakeview Elementary School
Wind Lake, WI

Kurt Griesemer
Wisconsin Historical Society
Madison, WI

Lisa Husnick
Lodi Elementary School
Lodi, WI

Michelle Johnson
Hammond Community Library
Hammond, WI

Kristen McDaniel
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
Madison, WI

David J. O’Connor
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
Madison, WI

Susan Plewa
Gaenslen School
Milwaukee, WI

Amanda Price
Marshall Elementary School
Marshall, WI

Corey Thompson
Cardinal Stritch University

Stephanie Unertl
Lake Mills Area School District
Lake Mills, WI