Looking at these animals though Native American symbolism reveals personalities and insight into how the characters will progress though the story.
Sitka (D.B. Sweeney) has the “Eagle of Guidance”. The eagle not only represents leadership but also sacrifice, courage, and illumination of spirit. Sitka sacrifices himself and the bear to save his brothers. Then he comes back in a spirit multiple times to help guide them.
Kenai (Joachin Phoenix) receives the “Bear of Love” totem. He thinks this spirit animal is weak, but the bear is so much more than love. It represents strength/power, courage, and guardian of the world. All of these attributes represent Kenai’s character as well as other bears in the movie.
Rutt (Rick Moranis) and Tuke (Dave Thomas) are two moose who act ditzy, contradictory to the wisdom usually associated with these creatures. They are also described as steadfast; you have to agree, these two moose do not give up on things easily. They play I Spy with the same object (tree) for far longer than necessarily.
In the movie, the two moose, Kenai and Koda (Jeremy Suarez) ride on mammoths. While there is not a lot of mammoth symbolism, I found the elephant symbolism to be relevant. Elephants are affectionate and strong. This holds true in this movie because the mammoths seem willing to let a variety of creatures ride on their backs.
Salmon actually represent inspiration and confidence. The salmon serve as a vehicle to inspire Kenai to be a part of the bear family. He wants to fit in so he continues to try to catch a fish; he doesn’t give up. Also, in this place, he becomes confident in himself both as a bear and in belonging somewhere.
So the totems do represent myriad characters in the movie. I do wish they would have given us more information about the different totems.
If you want some further food for thought, think about what it truly means to be a monster in this movie.
Tropes and idioms for this movie go as far as offering you a drinking game to play while watching. Ha!
The symbolism in this movie is goes far beyond simply relating it to Native American symbols.
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