Velma Wallis

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Velma Wallis (* 1960 in a village near Fort Yukon , Alaska ) is an American writer from the indigenous Gwich'in people .


Velma Wallis was born into a family of thirteen children and grew up near Fort Yukon in the village of Old Crow . The place is at the confluence of the Porcupine River in the Yukon River , about 200 kilometers northeast of Fairbanks and only a few kilometers from the Arctic Circle . Wallis was brought up from the Gwich'in Indian tribe according to the traditions of their ancestors who belonged to the Athabaskan language group .

She was thirteen years old when her father passed away. Velma Wallis left school to help her mother around the house and raise her five younger siblings. The deepening bond with her mother, who still speaks the Gwich'in language, gave her a lot of information about the history, customs and legends of her ancestors. For example, when she was thirteen, her grandmother survived a famine farther downstream in the Circle City area during a cold spell in which her parents, several siblings and many tribesmen had died. Wallis' grandmother and an aunt had been able to fight their way to the fishing camp Chalkyitsik , where they were taken in by a shaman . Wallis partially processed this family history in her book Two Old Women , published in 1993 (later German edition: Two old women ).

When the younger siblings were raised, Velma Wallis lived temporarily in the village of Venetie and went to school. She passed an exam that corresponds to the state high school diploma, but then decided to move to a lonely trapper's hut and live largely alone there. The hut had been created and used as a base in the wilderness about twelve miles from Fort Yukon by her father, who was a trapper hunting fur animals during his lifetime . Wallis stayed in this trapper's hut for over eleven years and sometimes even spent the winter there. She also tried herself as a fisherwoman, hunter and trapper.

Today Velma Wallis lives with her husband Jeffrey John and their children Daagoo and Laura Brianna in Fort Yukon on the Arctic Circle.


Web links


  • Lael Morgan (Ed.), Afterword in: Velma Wallis: Two old women. Munich 1994, ISBN 3-492-24034-8 , pp. 114-118.
  • About the author in: Velma Wallis: The bird girl and the man who followed the sun. Munich 2004, ISBN 3-453-35005-7 , pp. 219f.