- For Tanana's gallery, see here.
Tanana officiated the totem ceremony of Kenai, an adolescent tribesman, to whom she gifted the Bear of Love totem. Despite Kenai's disappointment, Tanana encouraged him to follow his totem's virtue so that he could place his handprint on the wall of their tribe's ancestors.
Later, after Kenai's transformation into a bear, Tanana helped him recover in the forest. She made Kenai aware of the transformation, explained to him that his brother Sitka had been the perpetrator, and warned him that he would gain a new perspective on his life. Finally, Tanana told Kenai to travel to the Mountain Where the Lights Touch the Earth in order to convene with Sitka's spirit and transform back into a human.
Later, Tanana named Denahi her successor as the shaman of their tribe.
Once back at the village, Tanana begins Kenai's ceremony. A small girl interjects the proceedings, but Tanana greets her joyously and lifts her onto her shoulders. Then she goes on to explain the importance of a totem, which is designed to guide the actions of its bearer. Afterward, she calls Kenai forward and adorns his face with paint. As she does so, she asks him if he is nervous, and he replies that he is excited. Tanana tells him the feeling is well-deserved, as his totem is a good one.
In a carrying voice, Tanana explains that the Great Spirits have revealed Kenai's totem as well as the virtue he must aspire to live by. Then she presents to him his totem, the Bear of Love, to his disappointment. Kenai attempts to trade totems with somebody in the audience, but Tanana austerely tells him that he can’t trade and smacks him on the head. In a gentler tone, Tanana reminds him that if he lets love guide his actions, he’ll be deemed a man and thus be permitted to place his handprint on the wall of his ancestors.
Later, Tanana presides over Sitka's funeral, burning his totem and releasing his spirit to the heavens. After the funeral, Kenai quarrels with his sibling, Denahi, over whether they need to kill the bear accountable for Sitka's demise. Feeling mad, Kenai throws his totem in the embers of the funeral pyre, then storms off to enact his revenge. Before the totem can be damaged, Tanana pulls it free, dusts it off, and gives it to Denahi, who departs to stop Kenai from slaughtering the bear. After the both of them depart, Tanana tells Sitka's spirit that his siblings need his guidance still.
The next morning, after Kenai is transformed into a bear by the Great Spirits, Tanana tends to his wounds in the forest. Kenai awakens, unmindful of his transformation, and begins to describe his encounter with the Great Spirits to Tanana. She interjects him at once, explaining that she does not speak bear, which leads Kenai to discovering his transformation. At first, he’s freaked out over the situation, and Tanana attempts to calm him, to no avail.
Finally, Tanana throws her boot at Kenai and tells him that Sitka is accountable for the transformation. Then she examines Kenai's new body and comments that the spirits don’t make such drastic changes as usual. Finally, she tells Kenai if he wants to change, he must take it up with Sitka's spirit on the Mountain Where the Lights Touch the Earth.
After Kenai chooses to remain a bear for good, Tanana names Denahi her successor and watches as he officiates the ceremony in which Kenai puts his paw print on the wall of his ancestors.
Tanana is an elderly human. She is quite short, being several inches shorter than the adolescent Kenai, and heavyset. Like her tribesmen, she is bronze-skinned. She wears her long white hair in two braids and dons red face paint.
Personality and traits
Tanana is maternal and kind-hearted, serving as a mentor to both Denahi and Kenai. She imparts her wisdom to her tribe using humor, compassion, and sometimes a touch of ferocity. She does not treat anyone with belittlement because of their age, as she seems to bear a particular fondness for children and puts much effort into her relationship with the adolescent Kenai.
As is customary for her tribe, Tanana respects nature and treats other creatures with dignity. She reveres the Great Spirits, following their customs, heeding their words, and passing on spiritual reverence to her tribesmen. As shawoman, she has a special connection to the spirits and regularly visits the Mountain Where the Lights Touch the Earth to convene with them, often to receive totems.
For all her wisdom, Tanana is fun-loving and quirky. She makes the occasional joke, even in the midst of a ceremony, and treats Kenai's transformation with excitability and interest. However, Tanana can have rapid mood changes, as seen when she raps Kenai on the head for trying to trade away his totem.
- Tanana is voiced by Joan Copeland.
- Tanana is named for the Tanana River in Alaska.
- Tanana is likely deceased, as an elderly Denahi is seen leading his tribe at the beginning of Brother Bear.
- Joan Copeland. IMDb. Amazon. Retrieved on June 27, 2020.
- Tanana River. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved on June 27, 2020.
- Revealed in Disney's Brother Bear (2003). Written by Steve Bencich, Lorne Cameron, Ron J. Friedman, David Hoselton, and Tab Murphy, and directed by Aaron Blaise and Robert Walker. Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.