Young Sioux boy Yakari dreams of capturing the tribe’s long-desired wild mustang, Little Thunder. Named for his speed and agility, Little Thunder has never been caught and tamed by any Native American. However, when Yakari stumbles upon Little Thunder and saves him from a rock-falling accident, Yakari’s totem, Great Eagle, gives Yakari the gift of speaking to animals. He uses this new gift to develop a friendship with Little Thunder, and together, they travel mountainous terrain, racing against tornado season to return to Yakari’s parents and his tribe.
Friendship and bravery are important elements to this story. Yakari discovers what it means to be selfless and courageous, putting others’ safety and dreams above his own. Meanwhile, parents should note that several bad Native Americans (from a different tribe) try to capture both Yakari and other wild horses, producing mild moments of violence. In addition, polytheism invades much of the storyline, producing a “god is in everything and is everything” belief system common for many Native American tribes. This provides a lesson, though, as Great Eagle, Yakari’s totem “guardian,” acts similar to Christ. Yakari looks to Great Eagle for guidance and forgiveness, and Great Eagle promises Yakari that he will never leave him.
While this polytheistic element exists, the teaching opportunity it provides, coupled with wholesome adventure, forgiving friendships and loyal family dynamics, awards Yakari the Dove seal for All Ages.
The Dove Take
Yakari is a cartoon adventure that showcases selflessness and friendship between a young Sioux boy and his tribe’s coveted horse, Little Thunder.