Raising Ourselves: A Gwitch'in Coming of Age Story from the Yukon River

Raising Ourselves A Gwitch in Coming of Age Story from the Yukon River Born in the sixth of thirteen children Velma Wallis comes of age in a two room log cabin in remote Fort Yukon Alaska Life is defined by the business of living off the land Chopping wood Haulin

  • Title: Raising Ourselves: A Gwitch'in Coming of Age Story from the Yukon River
  • Author: Velma Wallis James Grant
  • ISBN: 9780972494472
  • Page: 240
  • Format: Paperback
  • Born in 1960, the sixth of thirteen children, Velma Wallis comes of age in a two room log cabin in remote Fort Yukon, Alaska Life is defined by the business of living off the land Chopping wood Hauling water from the river Hunting moose Catching salmon Traping fur Taking care of the dogs For a thousand years, the Gwich in clan had followed migratory animals acrossBorn in 1960, the sixth of thirteen children, Velma Wallis comes of age in a two room log cabin in remote Fort Yukon, Alaska Life is defined by the business of living off the land Chopping wood Hauling water from the river Hunting moose Catching salmon Traping fur Taking care of the dogs For a thousand years, the Gwich in clan had followed migratory animals across the north But two generations before, the people had settled where the Porcupine River flows into the Yukon Now, the Wallis family has a post office box and an account at the general store, and Velma listens to Wolf Man Jack on armed forces radio The author discovers that her people have surrendered their language, traditional values, and religion to white teachers, traders, and missionaries Flu epidemics have claimed many loved ones Village elders seem like strangers from another land, and in a way they are There is much drinking when the monthly government checks come, and that is when the pain comes out of hiding RAISING OURSELVES is a gritty, sobering, yet irresistible story filled with laughter even as generations of Gwich in grief seeps from past to present But hope pushes back hopelessness, and a new strength and wisdom emerge.

    One thought on “Raising Ourselves: A Gwitch'in Coming of Age Story from the Yukon River”

    1. In this book, Velma Wallis tells a difficult story with grace. It helped me look at my story through a different lens. Sometimes lessons come after enough time and distance allows you to see clearly. I grew up as the white kid, in an Alaska Native village, and proximity to the culture did not give me great understanding of that culture - at least not then. Time, distance, maturity, and now returning to these roots as a curious outsider has allowed me to appreciate the beauty of the Native cultur [...]

    2. So this was a deeply sad book of growing up poor, struggling, being one of 13 kids with alcoholic parents struggling to hold onto the tatter remains of tradition as it falls apart for them. Moving book. Though I want to know more about this woman and her story and if she's doing OK.

    3. What is life like for a Native girl growing up near the Yukon River? Hard, very hard. In this book, Velma Wallis, who has written fiction based on her people's legends, tells of her life as one of 13 children in a Gwitch'in family. The Gwitch'in are an Athabaskan tribe that is coping with combining subsistence fishing, hunting, and trapping with new ways of trying to earn a living. Like other Alaskan tribes, they were forced to accept money, limited land, and adjustment to running their tribe li [...]

    4. Read this again, for the second time for a book-club up here in the village. And, of course, as with all second readings of good books, got more from it the second time, than the first.Wallis's honesty and real portrayal of Native Alaskan village life and the isolation, and dysfunction that goes with it. Her straight-forward and insightful description of growing up and surviving in a small village, as well as the cultural shock of being sent to the the lower 48 for school, are beautifully and mo [...]

    5. I'm a student who lives in Barrow, Alaska and I'm a senior in high school. I read this book because it caught my attention by the title. Raising Ourselves is about a woman who grew up with ups and downs but still overcomes her challenges. I read it because it relates to me because I am an Alaska Native. The best personal connection I made with the book was when Velma was told stories by the elders. I was told stories before when I was younger. I also relate to Velma because she grew up with ups [...]

    6. I have seen a number of reviews that stated that while this was a good book, it was a sad one. That is certainly true, but it is also an accurate depiction of the author's life and the life of so many other children growing up in Fort Yukon during those years. The addictions, the conflicts, the loss of culture and heritage and the struggle to find an identity in a world that was so rapidly changing, and not for the better in most cases, was very real.The saddest thing for me when it came to read [...]

    7. I like some of the way that this author presents a window into her world and life. I appreciate the glance of perspective that she offers me into a place that I had not considered closely enough in my time up here in Alaska to this point. On the other hand, I pull back a bit from such heavy compliments when she writes such negative and hurtful things in the flippant way that she does about her parent's issues with alcohol. I am sure that her way to referring to the problem comes from years of de [...]

    8. Velma Wallis was born in 1960. She grew up during the years that Alaskan Indians were transitioning to the new life presented (?or forced) by white teachers, traders, and missionaries. Their lives changed from living off the land - chopping wood, hauling water from the river, hunting moose, catching salmon, taking care of the dogs - to one of being forced to use a new language, a new religion, getting government checks, and introduction to alcohol. Ms. Wallis gives us pause to think about the va [...]

    9. A narrative ethnographic autobiography. Velma Wallis' life growing up in Fort Yukon, Alaska in the 60s & 70s chronicles the beginnings of the welfare system in Native Alaska-and the concurrent loss of traditional culture as older vllagers die off. A very important read for anyone unfamiliar with the atrocities of the "Westernization" of America's native peoples. Especially enlightening for teens. Valma is a likable, if sad, storyteller.

    10. I read this book because I had read the book 2 women and LOVED that one and my friend told me to.This book is a realistic account of a village Gwin'ch family growing up in Fort Yukon Alaska. The story describes how only generations earlier the people had lived off the land and were seemingly healthy. The arrival of religion and white people truly did a disservice to these Native Alaskan villages

    11. A powerful Native voice telling her own tale after sharing her traditional tales. Worth reading to better understand her experience as it relates to the challenges faced by contemporary Native communities.My only problem is that the structure of Wallis' narrative could've used the guidance of a gifted editor, someone who would've helped Wallis tell her tale more powerfully.

    12. This IS a life story, it IS a sad tale & the native Alaskans ARE egregiously affected by the forthcoming technological & societal advances; however, the author leaves out depth, and actual intrigue that must have existed through those hardships. Raising Ourselves reads like a short version diary with all of the demands & questioning of existence and self-reflection left out.

    13. I really enjoyed this book and the insights into village life in Alaska at a time of transition. There were a few editing errors and the story was slightly random. I think a better editor would have helped a lot, but the story and information itself was really interesting and a good read!

    14. This is a wonderful book showing the modern day life of a Gwich'in woman. Tells of the hardships and wonders of growing up in a rapidly changing culture and world.

    15. An interesting account of a native Alaskan family torn apart by alcoholism and the transition from traditional to modern American culture.

    16. Rural Alaska became a bit more real to me after reading this. A vivid account of the slow decline of a community.

    17. This is a story that is very sad and painful, but filled with hope throughout. It is the story of the 60s, a woman growing up in a log cabin in Alaska.

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