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  • Masaryk UniversityFaculty of Arts

    Department of English and American Studies

    Teaching English Language and Literature for Secondary Schools

    Bc. Soa Prudkov

    Writing Inuit by DisneyComparing Representations of Inuit and Native American Folktales

    in Disney's Brother BearMasters Diploma Thesis

    Supervisor: Jeffrey Alan Smith, M.A., Ph.D.

    20151

  • I declare that I have worked on this thesis independently, using only the primary

    and secondary sources listed in the bibliography.

    ............................

    Bc. Soa Prudkov

    2

  • I would like to thank my supervisor, Jeffrey Alan Smith, M.A., Ph.D., for his continual support, helpful guidance and offering practical advice. Further, I would like to express my gratitude to Mgr. Anna Velik, PhD. for her support and help, particularly for her comments made in reference to the field of Ethnology and fairytales. Finally, I would like to thank my family for their patience and support.

    3

  • Table of Contents

    Introduction.....................................................................................................................................61. Making Disneys Brother Bear ....................................................................................................8

    1. 1. Summary of the Disneys Brother Bear Story ....................................................................8

    1. 2. The Making of Disneys Brother Bear Movie ..................................................................10

    2. Inuit Storytelling.......................................................................................................................122. 1. Introduction to Inuit Story-telling......................................................................................12

    2. 2. Coming-of-age in Inuit and Indigenous Tales....................................................................15

    2. 3. Inuit Spirituality ................................................................................................................17

    2. 4. Representation of the Bear in Native American Folktales.................................................19

    3. Analysis......................................................................................................................................213. 1. Introduction to the Analysis...............................................................................................21

    3. 2. Summary of the Stories ....................................................................................................21

    3. 2. 1. The Epic of Qayaq.....................................................................................................21

    3. 2. 2. Brother to the Bears..................................................................................................22

    3. 2. 3. Racing the Great Bear...............................................................................................23

    3. 2. 4. The Bear Boy.............................................................................................................23

    3. 2. 5. The Woman Who Adopted a Bear..............................................................................24

    3. 3. Analysis of Inuit Features and Elements in the Stories......................................................25

    3. 3. 1. Coming-of-age .........................................................................................................25

    3. 3. 1. 1. The Epic of Qayak.................................................................................................25

    3. 3. 1. 2. Brother to the Bears..............................................................................................27

    3. 3. 1. 3. Racing the Great Bear..........................................................................................28

    3. 3. 1. 4. The Bear Boy.........................................................................................................29

    3. 3. 1. 5. The Woman Who Adopted a Bear..........................................................................31

    3. 3. 2. Transformation .........................................................................................................32

    3. 3. 2. 1. The Epic of Qayak.................................................................................................32

    3. 3. 2. 2. Brother to the Bear................................................................................................33

    3. 3. 2. 3. The Woman Who Adopted a Bear..........................................................................34

    3. 3. 3. Brotherhood...............................................................................................................35

    4

  • 3. 3. 3. 1. The Epic of Qayak.................................................................................................35

    3. 3. 3. 2. Brother to the Bears..............................................................................................36

    3. 3. 3. 3. Racing the Great Bear...........................................................................................37

    3. 3. 3. 4. The Bear Boy........................................................................................................38

    3. 3. 4. Representation of the Bear........................................................................................39

    3. 3. 4. 1. Brother to Bears....................................................................................................39

    3. 3. 4. 2. Racing the Great Bear...........................................................................................39

    3. 3. 4. 3. The Bear Boy.........................................................................................................40

    3. 3. 4. 4. The Woman Who Adopted a Bear..........................................................................41

    3. 3. 5. Revenge.....................................................................................................................42

    3. 3. 5. 1. The Epic of Qayak.................................................................................................42

    3. 3. 5. 2. The Woman Who Adopted a Bear..........................................................................43

    3. 4. Conclusion of the Analysis................................................................................................45

    4. Writing Inuit by Disney............................................................................................................514. 1. Inuit and Native American Representation .......................................................................51

    4. 2. Ambiguity .........................................................................................................................56

    4. 3. The Indigenous Way of Telling Stories..............................................................................59

    4. 4. Language............................................................................................................................61

    4. 5. Spirituality .........................................................................................................................67

    4. 6. Animation...........................................................................................................................68

    4. 7. Music..................................................................................................................................71

    4. 8. Conclusion ........................................................................................................................73

    Works Cited...........................................................................................................................77

    The Primary Sources ............................................................................................................81

    Resum (esk) ..................................................................................................................83Resum (English) ................................................................................................................84

    5

  • Introduction

    Disneys forty-fourth full-length animated feature Brother Bear is a story from long ago as

    the film begins. Set in the Pacific Northwest in the prehistoric past it tells a transformation tale

    about a boy who gets turned into an animal. The films creators, inspired by bear legends, created

    an original story set in an exclusively Native American environment, which makes it the first full-

    length animated Disney feature to do so. Having included some elements inherent to the culture

    of the Indigenous peoples of North America, it suggests the story takes place among Alaskan

    Inuit hunters. This is what, according to the journalist and writer Mark Pinsky, makes the film

    multicultural. As he points out, the first Disney tales were in the Western, thus European-

    American, tradition. With Brother Bear, he suggests, the features have become cross-cultural

    (Pinsky 223).

    What kind of cross-cultural message does Brother Bear communicate to its audience? In

    her essay Inuit Myth in Brother Bear, Tali Schroeder traces the elements of Inuit culture in the

    film and she assumes the film includes some aspects of common Inuit traditions and customs, as

    well as some elements of Inuit mythology and portrays the Inuit lifestyle remarkably well

    (Schroeder 1). Indeed, drum dancing ceremonie