Praise for The Wolf, The Woman, The
Teresas book, The Wolf, the Woman, the Wilderness: A True
Story of Returning Home has done an amazing job of helping the
reader to journey into the depths of our strongest connections with
the natural world. I had to read the whole book in one sitting,
as I felt that my own journey was being expressed thorough her experiences!
We are already recommending this book to all our students.
--Jon Young, Founder & Lead Instructor of Wilderness Awareness
When Teresa tsimmu Martinos book arrived, I glanced at its
cover and passed it on. A couple of days later it was back on my
desk, without comment. I opened the book to rifle through it quickly,
but made a big mistake by reading a few words.
The Wolf The Woman,The Wilderness is an exciting book, it
does not let you down anywhere. It is intense, it is action and
yet it is gentle. It deals with tradition, love, family, weakness,
ecology and strength.
I was amazed by the torrents of words strung together, not always
grammatically measured, making the story that much more graphic,
understandable and picturesque. Ms. Martino is telling her story,
yet her story is my story, but it is not predictable. I still had
to find out how the book ended and then, how the story began. Her
prose is poetry, her poetry is magic, her art is native, simplistic,
yet simplicity is the most difficult to achieve in communications.
She speaks of ancestors, spirits, of heaven and earth, about relationships,
emotions and feelings, not easy revelations. Who are we?
Reading her book, we know who Teresa tsimmu Martino is.
--Dezsoe Steve Nagy,
Latham Letter, Spring 1997
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Six years ago the author helped a young gray wolf return to her
homeland in the northern mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Previously
Martino had raised many exotic wild animals so introducing a wolf
pup, she names McKenzie and a fox pup, Kip to live with her wolf
hybrid Peter and her weimaraner, Beanie seems perfectly natural
at first. McKenzie becomes totally bonded to the author and even
sleeps in her bed. In time it becomes apparent that the wolf and
the fox must be returned to the wild to fulfill their wild destinies.
She releases Kip in a national park where there are other foxes
and plenty of food. Finding the right release are for the wolf poses
a more serious problem. Eventually, with the secret help of a friend
employed by the Forest Service, she discovers the right place in
the wild lands near the Canadian border. the adventure shared on
the unpredictable journey taken for the return of McKenzie to the
wilderness is full of suspense.
This is a fascinating true tale lyrically told as captivating as
a story told around the campfire. However, the private release of
a pet wolf unknown to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who administer
such reintroduction is hardly to be recommended. If every owner
of a pet they believed to be pure wolf were to decide to release
them in the wild the results spell disaster for the future of the
planned recovery efforts by the USFWS for wolves in the U.S.
--Paw Prints, February 27, 1997 Quarterly
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When I first met Teresa tsimmu Martino, I knew instantly that I
was meeting the real-life version of Clarissa Pinkola Estes
LaLoba": wolf-woman. Teresa is a Italian-Osage mixed-blood
woman who not only runs with wolves, she eats with them, sleeps
with them, and shares her home with them. Somehow, wolves have found
her: unwanted hybrids, mixed blood wolves who failed wild-animal
school---and sometimes full blooded wolves captured by circumstance
in a domestic world.
In her captivating new book, The Wolf, the Woman, the Wilderness,
Martino tells the story of one of these wolves, the tiny pup McKenzie,
who Martino eventually releases---secretly and illegally---back
into the wilderness. Along this incredible journey, Martino finds
her own roots, as well. I know a wolf. the narrative
begins, She was born captive in the northern mountains, but
her grandparents were free. I taught the wolf to return to her people.
For a year we traveled between my cabin and the northern wilderness.
And in that time, I returned to my people. Now my eyes are bright
gold like the wolfs my pupils narrow to a pin prick".
If Martinos story were nothing more than a tale of a wolfs
triumphant return home against impossible odds, that would be enough
to carry this jewel of a book. In fact, Martinos lyrical,
poetic writing alone would make it more than worth the read. But
what Martino has crafted reached far deeper. This is a universal
story of homecoming, archetypal in its images and moving in
its brevity. Martinos journey with McKenzie to her souls
true home is at once literal, visceral, and mythical.
In her book, Martino speaks passionately for what she calls the
wild": Not only for wild places, but for that ancient, inner
howl of freedom and spontaneity that still calls each of us in its
own way. As the young wolf McKenzie grows into her wild nature,
Teresa, whose Native American ancestry was a taboo subject in her
Italian home feels the tug of her own inner wilderness, and finds
her way through the elusive veils of her family history. What is
wilderness? Writes Martino, One good word derived from wilderness
is free...freedom in a wolf pack doesnt mean you
are not to do your job. Rather it is your right to work with your
reasoning instincts intact in peace".
I know Teresa Martino, I have seen her speak with the wolves that
live in the cyclone-fenced enclosure she calls home. I have seen
the broken road-killed deer she lugs from the highway to feed her
wolf family, and the muddy wolf prints tracking across the scarred
carpet of her ancient Air stream trailer in the woods. Martino lives
what she writes. She is the most honest and artistically gifted
woman I have ever known, one who has kept her reasoning instincts
intact. In The Wolf, the Woman, the Wilderness, she gives us a deliciously
rich and rewarding slice of that are and honesty, and leaves us
hungry for more.
--Susan McElroy, Author of Animals as Teachers & Healers
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Teresa Tsimmu Martino
Teresa tsimmu Martino is a poet and writer. Her middle name,
tsimmu, was given to her as a child, and is derived from the Yumi
word that means dreams of a wolf. She lives on an island
in the Northwest where she writes and makes a living as a horse
trainer. Martino also does wolf-rescue
through the nonprofit organization she founded and oversees, Wolftown.
Lev, Teresa tsimmu Martino and Peter.
Photo: Nancy Clendaniel
Q: In your book you write about your life with a young gray
wolf, and the decision to return her to the wilderness. What did
it mean for you to return the gray wolf, Mckenzie, to the homeland
of her grandparents?
A: It took more than nine months to prepare Mckenzie to learn to
live in the wild, and learn to hunt for herself. During that process,
it was hard to tell who was teaching whom. In the end, when Mckenzie
went back to the wild, I believe she released me as much as I released
her. In my journey with Mckenzie, it was a coming back to the land
for me as well as for Mckenzie. I was also very sad when Mckenzie
went to the wilderness because our lives would be separate, and
I knew that I would miss her terribly.
Q: What was the most difficult part of this journey? The most
A: The most difficult part was the ending---leaving Mckenzie, and
saying good-bye to her and the life we shared together. The most
dangerous part was when I had to search for her after she had been
alone in the wilderness for a week. When I returned to the wilderness
to find her, I was faced with a fierce storm that resulted in flooding
and an avalanche that nearly resulted in my death. I write about
this in the chapter of the book called Hungry Water."
Q: Can you share what has been the most painful part of your
experience with Mckenzie and returning her to the wilderness?
A: For me, the most painful part has been thinking about the fact
that Mckenzie was risking her life in going back. It was very difficult
to think about the possibility that McKenzie could die in the wilderness.
But she took the risk, one that we humans also must have to do if
we really want to be alive.
Q: What have the wolves taught you?
A: Mostly the wolves have taught me about community with the pack
and with the wild land itself. Also, that it takes individuals within
the pack to make community work. The wolves have to work together
to live. And the wolves have to be individuals within the pack.
Its like the body---each part of the body is needed for the
whole to work.
Q: What is it like living with wolves?
A: The wolves are loyal, and very, very intelligent. They also
have incredible senses of humor and are playful. They like to pull
on my clothing a lot, chase me around the wolf pen, and do just
about anything to get me to play with them.
The wolves also take up a lot of my time, and it is hard work caring
for them. I enjoy this lifestyle but it is a struggle. Wolves dont
really belong in captivity so they are harder to take care of. For
instance, their requirements for food are very demanding. Wolves
eat a lot of food and have a very high metabolism. The community
on the island where I live is always letting me know when they see
fresh road kill. And if thats not available, I have to buy
high protein meal.
I also have to be careful about the fencing for the wolf pen. It
has to be really good so they dont get out. The fence is eight-foot
high, chain link fence buried in the ground with an overhang.
Wolves are also very intelligent and they need creative things
to do. They are interested in exploring---anything from objects
around the wolf pen to my personal belongings inside my trailer.
One of their favorites is rolls of toilet paper. Great for shredding!
I also buy them interesting toys and objects at the local secondhand
store that they love to explore, chew on, and rip apart.
Q: In your experiences, what do you think is the difference
between wildness and the wilderness?
A: Wildness is doing what is innately natural to your being. Wildness
is instinctive, its being true to yourself. Wildness is not
doing whatever you please.
For Mckenzie, returning her to the wilderness meant returning her
to the natural environment of a wolf. To a place fairly untouched
by the modern world where wolves can live as they were meant to.
For me personally, to protect my own wildness means that I try
to find a way to live closer to the land. I keep my life simple.
I dont own a lot of things, I eat very simply. Fortunately,
my work and my lifestyle keep me close to animals. They help me
stay close to the land. However, its frustrating because its
very difficult to live close to the land in this society. Wildness
with others is the key. I watch how people who live slower and closer
to the land seem happier. I also see how we need community to be
whole. We need the village, but where is it? We must create it again.
Wilderness has many meanings to everyone: It can be a dangerous
dark place filled with trees and animals. It can mean Home the way
it once did to all humans. It can also mean a protected place for
the natural world far from the civilized, concrete places of the
Q: What do you think is happening to the wilderness today? What
can individuals do to save and protect the remaining wild animals
and the wilderness?
A: The wilderness is shrinking and becoming islands with civilization
caging it in. Unfortunately, this is unhealthy for the world.
Each of us can help protect what wildness we have left. It always
is helpful to start at home with simple things, like recycling and
not buying into a throwaway lifestyle. Preserve wilderness around
your home by planting indigenous trees and shrubs. Keep wilderness
in your heart by sitting for one whole day watching the clouds and
birds and insects where you live. Act like the wolves and get involved
with your community land trusts and wildlife sanctuaries. Then donate
to reputable organizations that help preserve wild lands and the
animals and plants.
Q: How do you view animals in the larger scheme of life? Do
you see animals as people?
A: Animals are other nations trying to learn and grow. Animals
are doing it in ways other than the way humanity has chosen. We
must realize that the human way is not the only way. We must open
ourselves up to the lessons we can learn by watching them. We must
learn to live with them and our world in balance.
Q: What is your spiritual experience? You talk about the Mystery
in your book. What does the Mystery mean to you?
A: The Mystery is a way of putting a name on the creative force
that binds the universe together. It is called the Mystery because
no one knows for sure exactly what it is. There are many paths to
what some people would call God.
Q: What was it like learning more about your Native American
roots as an Osage? How did this aid you in your journey to return
Mckenzie to the wild?
A: I think this was the arrow that pointed the way for me. Many
native nations use the wolf as an example of teacher and protector.
I was lucky enough to have my guide in person---the gray wolf Mckenzie---who
took me through the Mystery.
Q: What about your Italian ancestry, do you draw on?
A: I love the mixture of my blood, Italian and Osage, with a little
bit of Scottish. The Italians have some wonderful wolf legends.
Romulus and Remus, and St. Francis and the wolf. Italians are also
creative and family oriented people.
Q: Do you think that all human beings are natives of the land,
or only those of Native American ancestry?
A: All people are natives of the land. People need to stop being
orphans I THINK THAT THIS DISCONNECTS US FROM THE EARTH.
Q: How have your life experiences as well as your experiences
with Mckenzie influenced your attitude about death?
A: I have witnessed death close up---both human and animal. One
time Mckenzie caught a rabbit who gave itself up to death in her
jaws and died peacefully. Watching that was profound for me. We
all kill to live. For example, the wood in your house, the oil in
your car, the rubber in your shoes were all created from living
things. We cannot escape this fact.
The way I live with the reality of death is that in my mind I have
humbleness and respect, realizing that one day I, too, will go down
that long dark road. Death has also taught me to live each moment
and love those around me. For nothing lasts forever and the Mystery
must love change. Yet, I also understand that nothing will soften
the grief of losing someone you love. I have learned that you can
laugh through your tears.
Q: In your book you talk about the Give-Away in
the wild. What does this mean? Explain how you see it working in
A: The give-away is when you ask for something to give its life
so that you can live, be it plant or animal. I see life working
in nature---there is a waxing and waning balance of all life working
with all life with the bigger picture in mind. And we humans are
a part of this.
Q: What do you think about the gray wolf re-introduction program
in Yellowstone National Park?
A: I think it is a good idea. Especially when humans reintroduce
wolves as gently as possible.