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Teaching and Learning

Home  >  Teaching and Learning  >  Two Old Women  >  Discussion Questions
Chapter 8 - A New Beginning

 Chapter Summary: In this final chapter The People and the two old women reunite. Mother and daughter and son are brought back together and the band learns a valuable lesson about communication, respect for the elders, and themselves. The two old women are appointed to the council to share the knowledge they possess.

Discussion Questions for Chapter Eight:

This chapter is titled “A new beginning.” Why? (p. 123)

Points to consider:

  • The People have a chance to start over with the two old women.
  • They also have a chance to rethink the choices they made in the past and to start anew.

Why did the two old women only give small portions of food? (p. 125)

Points to consider:

  • They wanted to teach the band what they had learned about how to use their resources.
  • They understood the importance of making the little that they had last as long as possible to avoid starvation.

Why do you think The People were forbidden from visiting the camp of the two old women? (p. 126)

Points to consider:

  • The women feared the reaction to their accumulation of wealth (fur, wood, and food).
  • They were still leery of The People and did not trust them fully.

Why do you think Ch’idzigyaak was afraid to ask about the fate of her family? (p. 129)

Points to consider:

  • She was afraid they didn’t survive.
  • She might have also been afraid to confront them. She might not have known what to say to her.

Why was Ch’idzigyaak unsure her daughter would visit? (p. 130)

Points to consider:

  • She may have thought her daughter would feel too guilty about leaving her behind.
  • She couldn’t be sure how her daughter felt about not speaking out when the decision was made to leave the old women.

What do you think Ch’idzigyaak whispered in Ozhii Nelii’s ear? (p. 134)

Points to consider:

  • This is a great question to ask for discussion because everyone will have a different answer.
  • Perhaps the question might be this: What could she say that would allow her daughter to no longer feel guilt?
  • The question of why Wallis chose not to reveal this whisper also makes for great discussion.

Explain the new roles in the band. (p. 135)

Points to consider:

  • The women now had honorary positions and would be allowed to share ideas and thoughts.
  • The roles of gender might also be reconsidered.

How had the band changed? (p. 135)

Points to consider:

  • The band learned to respect elders and to communicate with each other.
  • They also learned to respect the resources and to not over-hunt an area and deplete the resources in that area.

How did The People know that more hard times were to follow? (p. 135)

Points to consider:

  • Hard times were a part of the land. There would always be difficult winters and The People knew they must always be ready for those times.
  • Times of scarcity and difficulty would always play a role in the Gwich’in lifestyle.

The People wanted to help the old women in any way that they could. Why wouldn’t the two old women allow much assistance? (p. 135)

Points to consider:

  • The women feared they would allow themselves to get lazy again.
  • They also didn’t want to lose their value to the tribe.

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