Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival
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Based on an Athabascan Indian legend passed along for many generations from mothers to daughters of the upper Yukon River area 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 two women have been known to complain more than contribute, they now must either survive on their own or die truing. 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 will carve out a permanent place in readers' imaginations.
owls, and anything else that moved. I killed it, and we ate it. The woman died that winter. Then I was alone. Not even my pride and usual carefree ways could help me. I talked to myself all the time. Who else was there? They would think I was crazy if The People returned to find me talking to the air. At least you and I have each other,” Sa’ told her friend, who nodded in wholehearted agreement. “Then I realized the importance of being with a large group. The body needs food, but the mind needs
daily fare of rabbit meat and found themselves dreaming of other game to eat, such as willow grouse, tree squirrels, and beaver meat. One morning, as Ch’idzigyaak awoke, she felt something was not quite right. Her heart pumped rapidly as she slowly got up, fearing the worst, and peeked out of the shelter. At first, all seemed still. Then suddenly she spotted a flock of willow grouse pecking at some tree debris that had fallen not far away. With trembling hands, she quietly got a long, thin
sunk low in gaunt faces and their tattered clothing barely able to keep out the freezing cold. Many of them were frostbitten. Luck had gone against them. In desperation, still searching for game, they had returned to the place where they abandoned the two old women the winter before. Sadly, the chief remembered how he fought the urge to turn back and save the old ones. But taking them back into the band would have been the worst thing for him to do. Many of the more ambitious younger men would
to eat slowly, but now that they were in the light, she could tell from their lean faces that they had not been eating well. Ch’idzigyaak noticed this, too, but her heart was filled with resentment at this unwanted intrusion, and she did not feel pity. When the men finished their food, Daagoo looked at the women expectantly as he waited for them to say something. For a while no one broke the silence. Finally, Daagoo said, “The chief believed that you survived, so he sent us to find you.”
introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books. Title page photograph � Cornforth Images/Alamy Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available upon request. ISBN 978-0-06-224498-7 (twentieth anniversary edition) EPub Edition November 2013 ISBN 9780062244994 ABOUT THE PUBLISHER Australia HarperCollins