Updated: Aug 2, 2021
Legend of the Deer Woman
The story of the deer woman is a universal message that is taught by many tribes. With all Native American folklore there is a message behind them all. The term “scared straight” comes to mind when I hear these kinds of stories. This is what makes them the unique and traditional legends that have stood the test of time. Deer Woman's specific magic and myth surrounds marriage and courtship rituals found in many tribes throughout Canada and the USA.
Told to young children or by young adults and preteens in tribes like the Sioux, Ojibwa, Ponca, the Omaha people, Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Choctaw, the Otoe tribe, Osage, the Pawnee people, and the Iroquois - and those are only the few that have documented Deer Woman sightings.
Original story of how the Deer Woman Came into existence
It has been reported that the message originated when a group of men many 100's of years ago took the purity of an innocent woman from a nearby tribe. They left her in a field to die after their grisly rape and murder. It is rumored that a sympathetic female deer lay beside her as the girl took her last breaths, just so she wouldn’t be alone on her journey back to mother earth.
The tribes’ men were never punished for the gruesome rape and murder of this woman. The woman was blessed with the strength of a deer in her next path of life, the Spirits, allowing her to make peace, gather justice and provide security for her and the future of other women across the land.
Message to men from this story is to never allow ones self to be tempted by the flesh. To treat women with respect and dignity or you perhaps the Deer Woman will visit you one day.
She is regarded as one of the Little People, or a class of supernatural entities such as leprechauns, gnomes, and fae people. Their chief purpose, she clarifies, is to teach humans that power must be respected and used wisely or there will be dire consequences to face.
Deer Women love to dance, and often join in the festivities of a celebration or powwow as a symbol of fertility, but one of control and civilized union. She plays a protective role over the community - encouraging strong bonds between married couples, her stories were meant to emphasize the importance of choosing a mate wisely and to avoid being misled by infatuation or lust. During chance encounters with an unfamiliar woman, young men were warned to check her legs. Hooves instead of human feet signaled that she was Deer Woman attempting to entice the man and bring him to an early grave.
A TIMELESS FIGURE WITH IMPORTANT LESSONS
Deer Woman is a terrible figure from older legends, but her deeds and personality are gaining new relevance and symbolic meaning among some modern Native people. For some, she is a cautionary figure warning against the misuse of power and perhaps the critical importance of consent. To others, she is a symbol of the will to survive as well as the vital need for justice and truth to prevail. The Deer Woman spirit teaches us that marriage and family life within the community are important and these relationships cannot be entered into lightly. Her tales are morality narratives: she teaches us that the misuse of sexual power is a transgression that will end in madness and death. Deer Woman instructs us that sexual attraction does not a proper marriage make; it is the societal and cultural responsibility of each tribal member to choose a mate wisely—therefore ensuring tribal survival into the next generation.