Raising Ourselves: A Gwich'in Coming of Age Story from the Yukon River is an account written by Velma Wallis that was published in 2002. Wallis is one of the best-selling Native American writers of the modern days. She is of Gwich'in Athabascan Indian descent. Wallis’ books are quite popular, having been translated into 17 languages, and her first book was an immediate international bestseller.
This novel, Raising Ourselves, tells of Velma Wallis’ own coming of age in the cabin she lived in with twelve other children and her parents in remote Fort Yukon, Alaska. The only way to travel in and out of this location is by sea, air, snowmobile, or dogsled. Wallis is the sixth child of thirteen, and they all live in a two room log cabin. When Wallis was 13, her father passed away and she quit school to help her mother support the entire family. She left the house for a while to perfect her trapping, fishing, and hunting skills to learn how to provide for herself as well as her family. Her mother came for a time to help Wallis learn things she couldn’t figure out for herself. Living independently and growing up, Wallis still can’t ignore the important changes that the white missionaries have brought along, and this memoir describes her story, filled with both grief and hope, despair and strength and wisdom.