Based on an Athabascan legend passed along from mother to daughter for many generations on the upper Yukon River in Alaska, this is the tragic and shocking story--with a surprise ending--of two elderl
Based on an Athabascan legend passed along from mother to daughter for many generations on the upper Yukon River in Alaska, this is the tragic and shocking story--with a surprise ending--of two elderly women abandoned by a migrating tribe that faces starvation brought on by unusually harsh Arctic weather and a shortage of fish and game. The story of survival is told with suspense by Velma Wallis, whose subject matter challenges the taboos of her past. Yet, her themes are modern--empowerment of women, the graying of America, Native American ways. Twenty years after its first publication, Two Old Women continues to be a publishing phenomenon, despite scant national publicity. This word-of-mouth book has been translated into seventeen languages, selling more than 1.5 million copies. This twentieth anniversary edition includes a new introduction by the author, new afterword by the editor, and a discussion guide for book-group readers.
View Biographical note
Velma Wallis was born in Fort Yukon, a remote village of about 650 people in Interior Alaska, near where the Porcupine River flows into the Yukon. Wallis was raised in a tradtional Athabaskan family, one of thirteen children. When she was thirteen, her father died and she left school to help her mother raise her younger brothers and sisters. Later, she passed her high school equivalency exam and moved to a trapping cabin twelve miles from the village, where she learned to live off the land by hunting, fishing, and trapping. Wallis based her first two books, Two Old Women and Bird Girl and the Man Who Followed the Sun, on the Athabaskan stories her mother told her when she was growing up.