"Two Old Women"

Two Old Women by Velma Wallis

This little book is the retelling of an old Indian legend. It tells of a tribe struggling to find enough food to get through a hard winter and making the difficult decision to leave behind two elderly women who were a drain on their dwindling resources. Why waste their precious food on people who were going to die soon anyway? It was expected the women wouldn't last long in the frozen wilderness; this was not the first time the tribe had been forced into this situation. But these two women decided not to lay down and die. If death was to come, it would have to fight for them. Their motto became "Let us die trying".

One of the woman was 75, the other 80. They made snowshoes and trudged miles to get to an old camp, sleeping in deep snow pits they dug for shelter. They hunted for their food, made coverings from animal skins, gathered fuel for fires and did whatever had to be done to survive. When they grew tired they rested, but they pushed each other to keep going.

The book goes on to tell how the tribe met up with the women again and how the old women dealt with the feelings of betrayal and the tribe with their feelings of shame at leaving them. The story of how they learned to trust each other again is an inspiring and satisfying one.

The way the story is written, I felt like I was sitting around a campfire hearing it in person from one of the Gwich'in people. It took only a couple of hours to read it, but I think it's going to stay with me for a long time. It reminded me how strong the human spirit is and how far perseverance can take you. Definitely worth reading.


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