Two Old Women, 20th Anniversary Edition: An Alaska Legend Of Betrayal, Courage And Survival Info

Browse best sellers, historical fiction, literary fiction and find out our top picks in Literature & Fiction. Check out our top reviews in Literature & Fiction books and see what other readers have to say about Two Old Women, 20th Anniversary Edition: An Alaska Legend Of Betrayal, Courage And Survival Read&Download Two Old Women, 20th Anniversary Edition: An Alaska Legend Of Betrayal, Courage And Survival by Velma Wallis Online


"No one should miss this beautiful legend." -- Tony
Hillerman

Based on an Athabascan Indian legend
passed along for many generations from mothers to daughters of the upper
Yukon River Valley in Alaska, this is the suspenseful, shocking,
ultimately inspirational tale of two old women abandoned by their tribe
during a brutal winter famine.

Though these women have
been known to complain more than contribute, they now must either
survive on their own or die trying. In simple but vivid detail, Velma
Wallis depicts a landscape and way of life that are at once merciless
and starkly beautiful. In her old women, she has created two heroines of
steely determination whose story of betrayal, friendship, community,
and forgiveness "speaks straight to the heart with clarity, sweetness,
and wisdom" (Ursula K. Le Guin).


Average Ratings and Reviews
review-bg

4.48

10138 Ratings

5

4

3

2

1


Ratings and Reviews From Market


client-img 4.6
744
191
40
20
10
client-img 4.03
3889
3473
1116
6
0
client-img 4.8
10
12
7
3
0

Reviews for Two Old Women, 20th Anniversary Edition: An Alaska Legend Of Betrayal, Courage And Survival:

3

Sep 03, 2017

Over the course of my reading this year, I have come across a number of books stressing the importance of age being just a number and that just because a person is old, does not make that person weak or enfeebled. The latest book that I have encountered this in is Two Old Women: An Alaskan Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival by Velma Wallis. A mythological tale passed down orally from generation to generation, Wallis has set a tale that her mother told her into print form as she relates how Over the course of my reading this year, I have come across a number of books stressing the importance of age being just a number and that just because a person is old, does not make that person weak or enfeebled. The latest book that I have encountered this in is Two Old Women: An Alaskan Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival by Velma Wallis. A mythological tale passed down orally from generation to generation, Wallis has set a tale that her mother told her into print form as she relates how two remarkable women saved her Gwich'in people.

The Gwich'in people live above the Arctic circle, north of Fairbanks. Winters are brutal and even though the bands of tribes are native to the land, their is a constant struggle to obtain food and survive. Some of the tribes had even been known to turn to cannibalism. In some situations, when starvation was at its height, tribal leaders made the decision to move and search for a new camp, leaving behind those too weak to assist the tribe in its survival. In each instance, the ones left behind are older women who are viewed as close to death and a burden to the younger, able bodied members of the tribes. The leaders of the Gwich'in people are no different and the tribal chief tells eighty year old Ch'idzigyaak and seventy five year old Sa' that they will have to be left behind as the tribe migrates to obtain food and shelter for the upcoming winter.

Ch'idzigyaak and Sa' decide to conquer their situation as they have both their life experience as hunters and their pride to fall back on. They can either stay rooted to one spot and meet death in the eye or they can make the best of their situation and survive. Although the women are peers, they had never been close as Ch'idzigyaak's life focused around her daughter, whereas Sa' never married and chose to hunt game with the men of her tribe. Between the two women, they knew enough about hunting, fishing, starting fires, and sewing to survive even the most horrendous of northern Alaskan winters. The women grow close and find out that in the history of both of their tribes, other older women had been left behind to die; yet, the other women had been enfeebled and close to death. These two women still believe that they have much of their life ahead of them and are emblematic of the fact that age is but a number to look at.

As this tale was an oral history passed down throughout the generations, Wallis writes this mythical tale as though she was telling. The writing is in a simplistic storytelling style; however, the story is enriching that I was captivated by it. I am usually not a fan of mythology but Wallis' novella is about remarkable women and is an entry in 500 Great Books By Women by Erica Bauermeister, and I have made it a long term goal to eventually read all 500 books listed in this valuable reference tool. As the baby boom generation ages, the issue of age being a number rather than a state in life becomes more and more of timely issue by the day. Wallis has gifted her people and readers with a lovely tale about both the survival of her tribe and about age being just a number, and a tale I rate 3.5 stars. ...more
4

Apr 19, 2019

During a particularly bitter winter, with food supplies quickly being depleted, the Chief of a nomadic Alaskan tribe does the unthinkable: he utters the words, "We are going to have to leave the old ones behind."

And, just like that, two elderly women are left to fend for themselves.

A rush of anger surged within her. How dare they! Her cheeks burned with the humiliation. She and the other old woman were not close to dying! Had they not sewn and tanned for what the people gave them? They did not During a particularly bitter winter, with food supplies quickly being depleted, the Chief of a nomadic Alaskan tribe does the unthinkable: he utters the words, "We are going to have to leave the old ones behind."

And, just like that, two elderly women are left to fend for themselves.

A rush of anger surged within her. How dare they! Her cheeks burned with the humiliation. She and the other old woman were not close to dying! Had they not sewn and tanned for what the people gave them? They did not have to be carried from camp to camp. They were neither helpless nor hopeless. Yet they had been condemned to die.

It is expected that the two will quickly perish, but instead, using skills learned over a lifetime, they not only survive, but manage to thrive in the harsh, unforgiving environment.

This was a quick, and very involving read. For me it was a three-and-a-half star read, but I'll round it up due to the author's positive message about age not being a limit to one's abilities.

And, for these great words to live by:

" . . . I say that if we are going to die, my friend, let us die trying, not sitting."

You go, gals! ...more
4

Jan 01, 2018

A classic native legend of two old women surviving the cold winter in the tundra region of Alaska. A perfect quick read to kick off my year of reading Alaska and Canada, and book 1 of 2018.
5

Jan 27, 2016

5+++beautiful inspirational stars!

I loved this tale of betrayal and injustice turned into hope, self-discovery, integrity, survival of extreme situation and friendship...Especially because the courageous survivors were two old frail women!

Now, because we have spent so many years convincing the younger people that we are helpless, they believe that we are no longer of use to this world.

This is a story before the time of Western culture, a traditional Athabaskan (natives of Alaska) story 5+++beautiful inspirational stars!

I loved this tale of betrayal and injustice turned into hope, self-discovery, integrity, survival of extreme situation and friendship...Especially because the courageous survivors were two old frail women!

“Now, because we have spent so many years convincing the younger people that we are helpless, they believe that we are no longer of use to this world.”

This is a story before the time of Western culture, a traditional Athabaskan (natives of Alaska) story handed down generation to generation, from person to person until it was written by the author after it was handed down to her by her mother.

‘To survive, we’re forced to imitate some of the ways of the animal. Like the younger, more able wolves who shun the old leader of the pack, these people would leave the old behind so they could move faster without the extra burden.’

This is the short story of two old women, Ch’idzigyaak and Sa’ and their struggle to survive extreme winter weather, harsh environment, hunger and the infirmity of old age after being abandoned by their family group. The people (tribal council) decide that the two elderly women in their care would jeopardise the group’s survival and drain what little resources and strength they have at this most critical time. As it is, they are hard-pressed to find food and the group is close to starvation. The solution is to abandon them to their fate: starvation and death.

‘In those days, leaving the old behind in times of starvation was not an unknown act, although in this band it was happening for the first time.’

This is a cruel decision and unpleasant death pronounced on the old ladies by the people they trusted the most: their own family, tribe and neighbours. The women are shocked and heart-broken, but no one dares to protest this decision for fear of their own and their family’s survival.

‘So it was that the weak and beaten members of the tribe kept what dismay they felt to themselves, for they knew that the cold could bring on a wave of panic followed by cruelty and brutality among people fighting for survival.’

This deep betrayal and abandonment leads to the exploration of fear, resentment and stoicism. But from this bleak premise rises a surprising and powerful theme of extreme survival, strength, self-discovery, female bonding/sisterhood as well as redemption, forgiveness, dignity and ultimately- respect. The old women realised that they didn't have to resign themselves to old age and all its limitations. They discovered a fighting spirit, determination and the courage to try and achieve the impossible and I loved that!

"Yes, in their own way they have condemned us to die! They think we are too old and useless. They forget that we, too, have earned the right to live! So I say if we are going to die, my friend, let us die trying, not sitting.”

I loved the transformation the two old ladies go through; from using a walking stick as aid and complaining about aches and pains and all the other ailments of old age to the realisation that they were not worthless or helpless. I really enjoyed their fighting spirit and dignity of these ladies. It was exhilarating to see them rediscover who they are, what they’re capable of and recall all the different survival skills they acquired throughout their long life in these harsh lands.

I loved, loved, love this story and the way it evokes a sense of isolation and desperation but then it drags you through that dark tunnel and into the light, to a world full of promise, confidence, integrity, friendship and redeeming love. I absolutely adored this simple yet beautiful and moving old story from the Athabaskan people of Alaska.

Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival is a testament to the old saying: ‘respect your elders’, because you can still learn from them more than you think.
...more
5

Oct 02, 2013

Update: Mom loved it, and I am so grateful that she and I share a love of fiction!

Review:

I loved this book. I can't wait to give it to my 89-year-old mother to read. It's such an affirmation of the dignity and wisdom of older age. My review may spoil the story for you so proceed cautiously from here.

Two Old Women is based on an Athabascan Indian legend. A starving tribe of Alaskan natives leaves two old women alone in the freezing cold to die, because every mouthful of food is precious, and Update: Mom loved it, and I am so grateful that she and I share a love of fiction!

Review:

I loved this book. I can't wait to give it to my 89-year-old mother to read. It's such an affirmation of the dignity and wisdom of older age. My review may spoil the story for you so proceed cautiously from here.

Two Old Women is based on an Athabascan Indian legend. A starving tribe of Alaskan natives leaves two old women alone in the freezing cold to die, because every mouthful of food is precious, and these two are unhelpful. They don't contribute to the tribe; they take from it. People have to help them. They complain constantly.

Once the tribe leaves them, though, they must decide whether to accept the death sentence or not. The younger woman, 75, says we might die anyway, but if that is so, let's at least die trying to live. So they adopt that motto. At least let's die trying. They manage to avert death by recalling long-unused knowledge of survival skills. In spite of their old, achy bodies, they thrive and bond with each other, but they are lonely and sad.

Eventually, there's a happy ending, which I'll let you discover for yourself. If you're like me, you'll reread it, crying with joy each time.

But the message of this book is multi-faceted. Elders can and should continue to contribute until the end. Youth should respect the elders for their valuable knowledge. All people benefit from this synergy.

Two Old Women is a short book. I read it in one evening. I heartily recommend it, particularly to those who are older and feeling ignored, useless, or confused. This book will get you up and moving, and it will make you happy.
...more
4

Jul 13, 2017

Velma Wallis was born in Fort Yukon, a remote village in interior Alaska and grew up in a traditional Athabaskan family. Alaskan Athabaskans are native to Alaska, the original inhabitants of the interior of Alaska, living a culture of inland creek and river fishing, fabricating what they need from the resources that surround them, living by a matrilineal system in which children belong to the mother's clan.

They are believed to have descended from Asians who crossed from eastern Siberia into Velma Wallis was born in Fort Yukon, a remote village in interior Alaska and grew up in a traditional Athabaskan family. Alaskan Athabaskans are native to Alaska, the original inhabitants of the interior of Alaska, living a culture of inland creek and river fishing, fabricating what they need from the resources that surround them, living by a matrilineal system in which children belong to the mother's clan.

They are believed to have descended from Asians who crossed from eastern Siberia into Alaska during an early Ice Age.

The People Velma Wallis writes about in this legend, roamed the land and rivers around the area she was born, following trails that ensured they had access to the necessary resources to survive the changing seasons. They depended on the annual salmon runs and large game as well as small animals, using their skins for warmth.

Growing up in a traditional way, the young Velma also lived in different summer and winter cabins and although no longer a child, she enjoyed the nightly stories her mother continue to narrate. One of those stories was about two old women and their journey through hardship and it lead to her mother reflecting on how she had been able to overcome her own obstacles of old age, despite how physically agonising it could be.

The story held such fascination to her that she wrote it down and it evolved into this little book, once a story handed down from generation to generation, now committed to print so that an ever wider audience could learn from its wisdom.
"This story told me that there is no limit to one's ability - certainly not age - to accomplish in life what one must. Within each individual in this large and complicated world there lives an astounding potential of greatness. Yet it is rare that these hidden gifts are brought to life unless by chance of fate." Velma Wallis
The story tells of a group of nomads, People of the arctic region of Alaska who are on the move in search of food, but this particular winter they are beset with problems, the game they usually hunt due to the excess cold have become difficult to find and the smaller animals are not enough to sustain the group. Hunters are fed first, meaning there is often not enough for the women and children.

In the group there are two old women whom the People care for, Ch'idzigyaak and Sa', younger men set up their shelters, younger women pull their possessions, however they are both known for constantly complaining of their aches and pains. One day, the chief makes a sudden announcement, one that the group has heard of from their stories, but never witnessed within their own band.
"The council and I have arrived at a decision." The chief paused as if to find the strength to voice his next words. "We are going to have to leave the old ones behind."
The women are shocked, as are the People, the older woman has a daughter and grandson, however no one objects, not even the daughter, though she leaves her mother a parting gift, one that will be intrinsic to their survival.

The group moves away leaving the stunned women sitting by the remains of their temporary camp. Until they awaken to the reality of their situation and find within them the will to move.

"Yes, in their own way they have condemned us to die! They think we are too old and useless. They forget that we, too, have earned the right to love! So I say if we are going to die, my friend, let us die trying, not sitting."

And so begins a challenging journey, a reawakening and discovery of talents that had lain dormant from lack of use, as the two women set out to prove their People wrong and more, to set an example, though no one is there to witness it.

It's a fabulous and poignant story about the value of the accumulation of years, and a reminder for those who arrive there not to lapse into laziness and a sense of entitlement, the respect that they deserve should be earned, the wisdom they are able to impart is not just what is spoken, it can be demonstrated by their actions and attitudes. Its' beautiful illustrations by James Grant bring the story to life and it is equally an ode to the importance of sharing experiences through friendship and community.

Highly Recommended! ...more
4

Jan 22, 2015

I read Velma Wallis' Bird Girl and the Man Who Followed the Sun: An Athabaskan Indian Legend from Alaska many years ago and really enjoyed her translation of oral history to the written word. It was nice to revisit her folk stories in this short novel. My hard copy of the book is the 20th Anniversary edition, published in 2013. Glad to see the publisher re-release the book to a new audience.

The story follows a small band of Athabaskans in a particularly hard winter, who make the choice to leave I read Velma Wallis' Bird Girl and the Man Who Followed the Sun: An Athabaskan Indian Legend from Alaska many years ago and really enjoyed her translation of oral history to the written word. It was nice to revisit her folk stories in this short novel. My hard copy of the book is the 20th Anniversary edition, published in 2013. Glad to see the publisher re-release the book to a new audience.

The story follows a small band of Athabaskans in a particularly hard winter, who make the choice to leave two elderly women behind on their journeys to lighten the load (and allow more food) for the rest of the group. It's a heartbreaking scene, and the women feel betrayed. This sadness turns into willpower and a desire to survive, even in the harshest of environments.

A lovely story of survival and will, but also an inspiration for living.

--
Read for Book Riot's 2017 Read Harder Challenge "A Book Wherein All Point-of-View Characters are People of Color" ...more
4

Mar 24, 2019

Tougher than an Artic Winter

The story of the two vulnerable amid the inhospitable is fascinating survival. The author's style is sparse as the events unfold - there's no lingering before moving on to what is next. The downside is some characters seem shallow. Good story in a brief read.
5

Jan 16, 2013

This is a rather wonderful re-telling of a legend about two women who are abandoned by thier tribe. The book chronicles the women as they find that while surviving is hard, they can do it, and perhaps teach some lessons of thier own.
4

Apr 11, 2018

I liked this. The title is so accurate, because this is indeed a book about two old women. They are old, and maybe they don't work as hard around camp as others. So when times get tough for the tribe, the leader leaves them behind for the sake of the tribe as a whole, because these women aren't contributors.

While this is not great literature, I loved the messages. These women realize things about themselves that they have ignored and or didn't want to admit, but now their survival is a task I liked this. The title is so accurate, because this is indeed a book about two old women. They are old, and maybe they don't work as hard around camp as others. So when times get tough for the tribe, the leader leaves them behind for the sake of the tribe as a whole, because these women aren't contributors.

While this is not great literature, I loved the messages. These women realize things about themselves that they have ignored and or didn't want to admit, but now their survival is a task that completely rests upon their own shoulders....they have no one else. I loved their journey of discovery in the Alaskan wilderness. It wasn't just a physical one. So 4 stars. ...more
5

Dec 09, 2008

I'm an older woman myself busy exploring the wilderness near the town where my husband and I have retired. My daughter thought I'd love this book about VERY old Athabaskan women who are left behind by their migrating tribe because they would be a burden on the tribe. Instead of going off to die in the wilderness they figure out how to survive on their own. It is an exquisitely detailed retelling of an old legend the author grew up hearing. She has truly honored her elders by writing this I'm an older woman myself busy exploring the wilderness near the town where my husband and I have retired. My daughter thought I'd love this book about VERY old Athabaskan women who are left behind by their migrating tribe because they would be a burden on the tribe. Instead of going off to die in the wilderness they figure out how to survive on their own. It is an exquisitely detailed retelling of an old legend the author grew up hearing. She has truly honored her elders by writing this wonderful book. It is a short read but you feel like you've lived through a long experience! ...more
5

May 01, 2016

Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival by Velma Wallis. A story set in Alaska's arctic circle (an area between Fort Yukon and Chalkyitsik) is about two old women of the Gwich'in People. The Gwich'in People are one of eleven distinct Athabaskan groups in Alaska. This is the story of two old women who do nothing while other members of The People have to assist them as they walk with their walking sticks complaining. One hard winter The People are starving and it is Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival by Velma Wallis. A story set in Alaska's arctic circle (an area between Fort Yukon and Chalkyitsik) is about two old women of the Gwich'in People. The Gwich'in People are one of eleven distinct Athabaskan groups in Alaska. This is the story of two old women who do nothing while other members of The People have to assist them as they walk with their walking sticks complaining. One hard winter The People are starving and it is decided that the two old women will be left. The two old women are devastated and nearly give up, when one says "..they have condemned us to die? They think that we are too old and useless. They forget that we, too, have earned the right to live? So I say if we are going to die, my friend, let us die trying, not sitting. So the 75 and 80 year olds set about "trying to live". This is a beautiful story of survival, of friendship of women, of old age and the value of old age to the community.

The author was born in 1960 in Fort Yukon. She grew up in a traditional Athabaskan family. She has lived alone in her father's trapping cabin 12 miles from the village for dozens of years. She passed a high school equivalency exam and began to write down a legend her mother had told her about the two abandoned old women and their survival. ...more
4

Jan 28, 2020

The message I got from this book is "Don't be a crabby old lady or else no one will want to be around you." Seriously, this is a nice story about the resilience of old people and the grace of forgiveness.
4

Oct 17, 2018

The native people in this legend are one of eleven distinct bands of nomadic tribes which belong to the Athabaskan group in northeastern Alaska. Depending on the weather, these groups follow the sources of food - animals, plants, berries - throughout the year.

This story takes place during an especially frigid winter. The members of the band are facing starvation as their sources of food become more and more limited. Its easy to feel their desperation as the weather turns colder and colder. The The native people in this legend are one of eleven distinct bands of nomadic tribes which belong to the Athabaskan group in northeastern Alaska. Depending on the weather, these groups follow the sources of food - animals, plants, berries - throughout the year.

This story takes place during an especially frigid winter. The members of the band are facing starvation as their sources of food become more and more limited. It’s easy to feel their desperation as the weather turns colder and colder. The tribal council had never chosen to abandon anyone, but this time they make the difficult decision to leave two elderly women behind. They have become a burden to the group.

This legend is an inspirational tale of courage, perseverance, determination, and strength of spirit that the two old women exhibit as the try to survive or die trying.

Two Old Women: an Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival won the 1993 Western States Book Award and the 1994 Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award. ...more
4

Apr 20, 2018

Velma Wallis's Two Old Women is a short and simple story: during a famine, a tribal group of Gwich'in, on of the Athabaskan groups in Alaska, abandoned two old women to die. Against all odds, they live.

How did these two old women make it when everyone else was starving? They supported each other and pulled each other through difficult times. Their late night conversations helped them remember previous successes and access long-forgotten strengths and skills. They were even helped by a daughter Velma Wallis's Two Old Women is a short and simple story: during a famine, a tribal group of Gwich'in, on of the Athabaskan groups in Alaska, abandoned two old women to die. Against all odds, they live.

How did these two old women make it when everyone else was starving? They supported each other and pulled each other through difficult times. Their late night conversations helped them remember previous successes and access long-forgotten strengths and skills. They were even helped by a daughter and grandson before being left to die: leaving a basket of babiche and gifting a hatchet.The People had thought themselves to be strong, yet they had been weak. And the two old ones whom they thought to be the most helpless and useless had proven themselves to be strong.This is not a complicated story, and its conclusions aren't novel, but its heroines are more complicated than they had thought they were. Despite its brevity, Two Old Women is moving, without dipping into pathos.

I've already recommended this story to two people. ...more
4

Jun 02, 2010

A short, quick read, well worth the few afternoon hours it took me to devour the chronicling of an Alaskan legend.

In the introduction, author Velma Wallis writes:
This story of the two old women is from a time long
before the arrival of the Western culture, and has been handed down from generation to generation, from person to person, to my mother, and then to me.

... This story told me that there is no limit to one's ability - certainly not age - to accomplish in life what one must. Within A short, quick read, well worth the few afternoon hours it took me to devour the chronicling of an Alaskan legend.

In the introduction, author Velma Wallis writes:
This story of the two old women is from a time long
before the arrival of the Western culture, and has been handed down from generation to generation, from person to person, to my mother, and then to me.

... This story told me that there is no limit to one's ability - certainly not age - to accomplish in life what one must. Within each individual on this large and complicated world there lives an astounding potential of greatness. Yet it is rare that these hidden gifts are brought to life unless by the chance of fate.

Nearly winter, The People are near starvation. It is decided to leave behind two old women, that doing so will make it easier for The People. They cannot support the many mouths they have to feed.

This is a marvelous story of courage and survival. ...more
4

Nov 19, 2015

How must you live your life?


All alone, or with a little help from some friends, you can cling to it no matter what the odds are and if youre lucky triumph momentarily against death. Then your story will live on as an inspiration and give courage when hope is waning and in that way you would have conquered death. Metaphorically at least.

For who knows if these two old womenabandoned by their nomadic tribe during a famine were not real life characters who were just lost in legend? How must you live your life?


All alone, or with a little help from some friends, you can cling to it no matter what the odds are and if you’re lucky triumph momentarily against death. Then your story will live on as an inspiration and give courage when hope is waning and in that way you would have conquered death. Metaphorically at least.

For who knows if these two old women—abandoned by their nomadic tribe during a famine— were not real life characters who were just lost in legend? ...more
5

September 1, 2019

I've worn out two copies of this and especially appreciate it now I'm nearing 70 although I've been rereading it for many years. She also wrote Birdgirl and the Man who Followed the Sun. Both books are stories from the Athabaskan oral tradition featuring natives who suddenly had to adjust to a chang...Full Review
4

Nov 27, 2016

I've become increasingly sick of the Battle Royale iterations a good portion of my television shows have turned into. Kill your darlings if you must in your creative writing classes, but if you think chopping off characters whom the audiences have obviously become attached to is more profound and/or more worthwhile and/or better for ratings, it's more likely that you're lying to yourself and taking the easy way out. In this day and whitewashing age, vacuums are simple to deal with. You plant a I've become increasingly sick of the Battle Royale iterations a good portion of my television shows have turned into. Kill your darlings if you must in your creative writing classes, but if you think chopping off characters whom the audiences have obviously become attached to is more profound and/or more worthwhile and/or better for ratings, it's more likely that you're lying to yourself and taking the easy way out. In this day and whitewashing age, vacuums are simple to deal with. You plant a memorial, dole out the grief for appropriate rage-induced power-ups amongst the demographically fit characters remaining, and repeat the murderous cycle with new faces and old whenever the drama needs to be boosted over as efficient a number of characters as possible. It’s much harder to maintain a cast in as believable and engaging a complexity as is demanded by an audience over long periods of time than it is to amputate whenever plot threads have become too unwieldy or personalities have evolved past the point of simple tropes and stereotypes. To put it simply, if the average TV show regardless of genre was as conscientiously holistic as ‘Middlemarch’, I’d be a lot happier.

In the last week, Thanksgiving Day, an eviction notice by the Army Corps of Engineers, and self-deployed veterans all converged on NoDAPL water protectors: the last to protect, the former two to antagonize. It’s no surprise that this is occurring, as a postcolonial world can hardly exist when multiple settler states in the form of the entirety of North America, South America, Australia, and other components of various continents continue to exist. It's no surprise either that mass media coverage has either been silent, misleading (how do you have a face off between a military industrial complex and simple flesh and bone?), or genocidal, as there's nothing like making it clear to millions of European descended individuals that they should all go back to Europe to really piss the worldwide wellsprings of violence off. As such, I've decided to devote a portion of my near future reading to the voice of indigenous women, if only to reduce the risk of subconsciously avoiding the ongoing issue. In this particular work's case, the theme of amputation gone wrong is even more valuable in this post-election period, as I can guarantee you that the violation of the rights of the indigenous people of my country is only going to get worse here on out.

A community in peril abandons a few members in hopes that it has judged correctly and cut off the excess that will hinder the survival of the greater good. Life goes on, the supposed weak inherit the earth, and the snake comes to regret the shedding of its tail. There are not as many reiterations of this trope as there should be, which is understandable if not encouraging in a world bent on mercantile evaluation of souls from day of birth. In the coming years, this excision may very well reach the levels popularly recounted in historical fiction which touch back 80-90 years prior, and the dilution via the terms of grammar nazi and feminazi and so forth will allow the naturally protected to continue to ignore the cries of the excised. Either that, or the electoral college and/or recount facilities will come up with an opinion which differs from a constitutional mandate built in to enhance the value of the votes of slave states. In any case, it's easy to be a realist when one of your realistic options isn't to shoot yourself in the head. ...more
3

Nov 17, 2018

I hit a rough patch at work and a friend suggested that I try this quick read. "Its inspirational" she said, and "can help you keep going". The story is simple, and is indeed inspirational. A retelling of a long told tale about two older woman abandoned by others as they trek across the frozen Artic Circle. Old and complaining, the starving People decide to leave them behind. The women take turns supporting each other and they manage to carve out a life complete with food and warmth that greets I hit a rough patch at work and a friend suggested that I try this quick read. "Its inspirational" she said, and "can help you keep going". The story is simple, and is indeed inspirational. A retelling of a long told tale about two older woman abandoned by others as they trek across the frozen Artic Circle. Old and complaining, the starving People decide to leave them behind. The women take turns supporting each other and they manage to carve out a life complete with food and warmth that greets The People when they return, regretful of their decision and afraid that the women are long since dead.

The story is a simple one, and it is inspirational in the clear message of how someones the only way to deal with something is to face it head on, bracing yourself against the wind. ...more
5

Sep 29, 2017

During a time when she and her mother were working outdoors side-by-side [in the Fort Yukon community in Alaska] and reflecting upon those ancestors who had been able to sustain a gritty, hard-won physical strength and wisdom up until their deaths - Velma Wallis's mother told her this story, which had been orally handed down from generation to generation. Impressed by the legend's great life lessons, Velma returned to their winter cabin and wrote it down, "using a little of [her] own creative During a time when she and her mother were working outdoors side-by-side [in the Fort Yukon community in Alaska] and reflecting upon those ancestors who had been able to sustain a gritty, hard-won physical strength and wisdom up until their deaths - Velma Wallis's mother told her this story, which had been orally handed down from generation to generation. Impressed by the legend's great life lessons, Velma returned to their winter cabin and wrote it down, "using a little of [her] own creative imagination."

I think this story speaks to me more now that I've got some mileage in life. I'm not sure it would have resonated with my younger self who had so much energy and naivete to burn and thought that the world was her oyster! ...more
2

Jan 25, 2015

I probably shouldn't admit that I didnt " love this little tale". I read it for a book club, never would have chosen it
4

Aug 22, 2015

Finally I visited Alaska, one of my dream literary destinations. The visit was short, but memorable. This is the true story of two Alaskan nomadic elderly women who were left to die by the tribal chieftain after a collective council decision, perhaps as a strategic survival move during the very lean and bitter winter. These women, despite their advanced ages (75 and 80), somehow found their will to live, and utilizing their collective knowledge of 150 odd years, managed to survive for more than Finally I visited Alaska, one of my dream literary destinations. The visit was short, but memorable. This is the true story of two Alaskan nomadic elderly women who were left to die by the tribal chieftain after a collective council decision, perhaps as a strategic survival move during the very lean and bitter winter. These women, despite their advanced ages (75 and 80), somehow found their will to live, and utilizing their collective knowledge of 150 odd years, managed to survive for more than a year. The end, which may constitute a spoiler if I mention here, was poignant and muse-worthy. It taught me an important lesson - age is just numbers- which hopefully I will remember in my dotage. ...more
4

Aug 21, 2019

Two old women are part of a migrating Athabaskan Indian tribe during a harsh Arctic winter. The people are starving, and the two old women are abandoned by the group.

But the two women don't just sit down in the snow and die. Instead, they struggle to make their way to an old camp they remember as being flush with animals from the past, and with unexpected resolve and determination, the two women build a shelter from the freezing cold, hunt and store food, and make warm mittens and clothing from Two old women are part of a migrating Athabaskan Indian tribe during a harsh Arctic winter. The people are starving, and the two old women are abandoned by the group.

But the two women don't just sit down in the snow and die. Instead, they struggle to make their way to an old camp they remember as being flush with animals from the past, and with unexpected resolve and determination, the two women build a shelter from the freezing cold, hunt and store food, and make warm mittens and clothing from the skins of the animals they kill.

It's a wonderful story. I was rooting for the women the entire time and they proved themselves to be worthy every step of the way during their trials in the Arctic. ...more
5

Sep 11, 2009

This story is delightful. The author wrote with such skill that I felt I sat at her feet, while gazing into the embers of glowing fire while she told the tale of these two brave women. She literally took me to this place in her memory. Ms. Wallis makes a valid point in her introductory of this book that the oral histories of our people and families need to be preserved. She also acknowledges the elders of her tribe and gives them respect in her dedication.

I was reading this book while waiting in This story is delightful. The author wrote with such skill that I felt I sat at her feet, while gazing into the embers of glowing fire while she told the tale of these two brave women. She literally took me to this place in her memory. Ms. Wallis makes a valid point in her introductory of this book that the oral histories of our people and families need to be preserved. She also acknowledges the elders of her tribe and gives them respect in her dedication.

I was reading this book while waiting in a doctor’s office with my mother. My mother has had a rough decade as her body has been ravaged by the effects of heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and neuropathy. She complains about her woes from time to time and her diseases do limit her capabilities. More than once she has muttered a phrase similar to this, “why don’t you just take me out and shoot me and put me out of my misery”. Of course she doesn’t really mean it, she’s just trying to make light of her difficulties. Despite all of her challenges she still plugs dutifully through life doing what she needs to. I’ve watched her meet a challenge with fear, worry it through, figure it out and in the end get it done. I admire her cheekiness.

So back to the book, I was reading and my mother chuckled and once again muttered one of those I’d rather be dead comments exactly when I read this passage from the book, “However, the two old women shared a character flaw unusual for people of those times. Constantly they complained of aches and pains, and they carried walking sticks to attest to their handicaps. Yet no one reprimanded the two women, and they continued to travel with the stronger ones—until one fateful day.”

That fateful day was the one when their people abandoned them on the freezing cold Yukon tundra. This was a practice reserved for extreme times. “The people” were required to follow their food source to survive. The band was facing starvation and the old ones could not keep up. So they were left behind to meet their fate.

These two old women sat for a time in shock and despair, considering their plight. Then the younger of the two, Sa’, speaks her mind, “Our time of leaving this world should not come for a long time yet, but we will die if we just sit here and wait. This would prove them right about our helplessness. Yes, in their own way they have condemned us to die! They think we are too old and useless. They forget that we, too, have earned the right to live! So I say if we are going to die, my friend, let us die trying, not sitting.”

I find this advice pertinent to all. The story continues as these two women pluck their courage from deep inside, put it on and face the daunting task of survival in a hostile environment. Surprisingly they find the will and ability to do it.

I enjoyed the story, and as all good tales do it ended with a lesson learned, ready to be passed on to generations.

The illustrations in this book were pen and ink, roughly and simply done lending to the simplicity and authenticity of the story. ...more

Best Books from your Favorite Authors & Publishers

compare-icon compare-icon
Thousands of books

Take your time and choose the perfect book.

review-icon review-icon
Read Reviews

Read ratings and reviews to make sure you are on the right path.

vendor-icon vendor-icon
Multiple Stores

Check price from multiple stores for a better shopping experience.

gift-icon

Enjoy Result