Bears have long been seen among many Native cultures as beings with unusual powers. They reappear each spring after a long hibernation, so are associated with renewal and healing. Their strength and ferocity, combined with their many physical similarities to humans, made them frequently emulated by hunters and warriors. Bears often served as clan animals linking an entire extended family group. The ones depicted on this bowl could have been meant to evoke any of these meanings and were skillfully executed by the artist to show their essential natural force.