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Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal,…

Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival (1993)

by Velma Wallis

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6982913,611 (3.88)38



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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. ( )
  Kristelh | May 1, 2016 |
This is a wonderful story that tells an important story. The insight into The People and their hardship and survival is compelling and moving.
Curricular Connections:
*Understanding Native culture
*Study of Alaska and the people that are native to the land
*Terrific book study for middle school group
  JulieBFEL | Feb 15, 2016 |
What a great tale ! My good friend and reading buddy handed me this book to read and I devoured it. It is really a wonderful story and written so well! Such a quick read too! ( )
  bjoelle5 | Feb 10, 2016 |
This short novel is a retelling of a native Athabascan legend from before Western culture was known in Alaska. Two complaining, irritating old women are left behind by their tribal group when the group hits hard times, and all are facing starvation. However, rather than dying (as expected), the two women struggle to survive through the winter, learning strength, self-reliance and friendship along the way. Meanwhile, the tribal group does less well at surviving than the old women, and learns that they may have misjudged the two, and must come to re-evaluate their priorities. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
3.5 stars

Based on an Athabascan Indian legend, this is a story about two old women who where left to die by their tribe during a winter famine. Forced to choose between dying or "die trying", they rediscover their long forgotten skills and knowledge, and, against the odds, manage to survive, reclaiming their spiritual and mental strength along the way.

This is a classic story steeped in timeless themes such as friendship, betrayal and forgiveness, and it comes with a piognant lesson. However, the writing didn't capture my imagination, although it is probably written in much the same way as it would have been told; it just didn't grab me. The book is a fair bit shorter than the page count would suggest, as it is a small format with rather large print, so it would probably be half the number of pages of an average sized book.
( )
  SabinaE | Jan 23, 2016 |
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This book is dedicated to all of the elders whom I have known and who have made an impression in my mind with their wisdom, knowledge and uniqueness.
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Each day after cutting wood we would sit and talk in our small tent on the bank at the mouth of the Porcupine River, near where it flows into the Yukon. (Introduction)
The air stretched tight, quiet and cold over the vast land. (Chapter 1)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060723521, Paperback)

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).

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:26 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival is a classic Athabascan Indian tale of survival, filled with suspense and wisdom as told by Velma Wallis, an outstanding Native American writer. Her style is a refreshing blend of contemporary and traditional, and her choice of subject matter challenges the taboos of her past. Yet her themes are modern -- empowerment of women, the aging of America, and a growing interest in Native American values. Based on a legend told and retold for many generations in the remote Yukon River region of northeast Alaska, this is the tragic and shocking story (with an unexpected upbeat ending) of two elderly women who are abandoned by a migrating band facing starvation because of unusually harsh Arctic weather and a shortage of fish and game.… (more)

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