Touching Spirit Bear

By: Ben Mikaelsen

Project By: Kayden Russell


At the start of the novel, Cole is a fifteen-year old convicted juvenile delinquent from Minneapolis. He most recently has been put in detention for violently hitting and assaulting a classmate named Peter Driscal who had turned Cole in for robbing a store. His parents do not know what to do with him anymore. In frustration and while drunk, his father often beats him while his mother rarely defends him. Peter is a young fifteen-year-old who was badly beaten up by Cole. Since Cole went as far as smashing his head repeatedly against the sidewalk, Peter's injuries have left him with a speech problem and vivid nightmares. He is shy, quiet, and terrified of Cole's presence after that moment forward. Garvey works in the juvenile justice system, and he has focused his efforts on helping Cole out of his difficult situation. Edwin is a Tlingit Indian from Drake, Alaska who is brought in to help Cole through his time of banishment on an island by the Tlingit village of Drake. Cole goes from being an angry violent teenager to a more self aware man. Peter still has anger issues against Cole. On the island Peter taunts Cole and even attacks him. Cole does not fight back. In the end both boys see the Spirit Bear. Peter seems to change a little, and he helps Cole change too.


The circle represents no beginning, no end / life. Spirit bear represents pride, dignity, honor, and Cole's anger. Storm represents no control, defenselessness, and power of nature. Fire represents Cole's anger. AT.ÒOW represents trust, tradition, and shelter.

"What ever you do to the animals, you do to yourself. Remember that." Edwin pg. 19

The life lesson is not to blame others for your own problems, for example when Cole smashed Peter's head into the ground. He only has those issues because his dad beat him. Cole is always angry and he likes to be bigger and better than everyone else. Cole's dad beats him, then he goes and beats someone else up, that is why Cole got into big trouble.


I am Cole Mathews

I am relaxed and curious

I wonder about the spirit bear

I hear bear roars

I see the spirit bear

I want to change

I am Cole Mathews


I pretend to see the spirit bear

I feel happy

I touch the totem pole

I worry about Peter

I cry to see my mom

I am Cole Mathews


I understand why my dad beat me

I say he didn't mean it

I dream of a perfect family

I try to be as good as I can

I hope to see my mom

I am Cole Mathews