Oklahoma’s Deer Woman
One of my favorite pastimes is to attend local powwows here in Oklahoma. Instead of celebrating the Fourth of July the “American Way” I take my family to a local powwow to celebrate independence on a more cultural level. The stories and legends attached to Native America are an amazing piece of history that is overlooked in the paranormal investigative field. If you were to think about it, the majority of Native American events in history have some kind of supernatural link to them. These types of stories intrigue me and I will share one of my favorite ones told to me by some of the elders of the Cheyenne Arapaho tribe of Oklahoma.
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.
While the locals enjoy the powwow at the local stomp grounds the stars are out, drums are pounding away into the distance. A 20-year-old dancer is taking a break from the fast and furious footwork. He takes off his head covering as the sweat flows from his pours. He looks into the field as the ladies jingle dress dance is taking place he notices a flutter in the field. Wiping the sweat from his eyes he takes another look and sees that it is a person dancing around in the field. He gets up from the bleachers and starts to walk in the direction of the person, paying no attention to anyone else. He gets closer to the barbed wire fence and focuses into the night sky as he watches this person dance around in the brush. The person seems to be getting closer. He starts to notice a beautiful shawl, crimson and turquoise with yellow spots. It is a woman dancing in the field, he finds a post within the fence and continues to watch her in the distance. Every minute that passes she seems to mysteriously get closer to him. He starts to notice that the woman has beautiful braids and a headband made of gold, she is a beautiful dancer. He continues to watch attentively as she dances in the field, she floats like cotton and never a stumble. Her beauty and her grace intrigue the man, deciding the climb through the barbwire fence. He is compelled to meet this woman and to find out why she is alone in the field dancing.He slides through the fence and notices that she motions her arms as if she is pulling him closer with an invisible rope. She wants him to meet her; he starts to run out into the field, all he can hear is the belled anklets adorned to his fathers’ moccasins. He continues to run into the field and he realizes that she is out further than he thought. The woman continues to pull him closer and he finally catches up with her. Her beauty strikes him, eyes of a mature fawn. Her eyes so dark they are almost black. Her skin is the color of cool caramel and her hair is braided and thick as horsehair. She smiles at him, he is in wonderment of this beauty, of who she is and where she is from. For a moment he recognizes the drums in the background and thinks to himself that the shawl dancers are still in motion.He turns and notices that he is very far away from the stomp grounds, the lights are in the distance, small as the midnight stars. He turns to the woman and sees that she is not there, he notices her as she is briskly running away from him, turning back at him smiling a tempting invitation for him to follow her. As he starts to dash after her in the long brush, in amazement at her grace as she runs through the obstacles, he watches in amazement.
The man is growing tired and notices that he is not catching up to her, they are just going farther out away from the stomp grounds. He gradually stops to take a breath. As he bends over to rest, he looks to the ground. The man sees what appear to be the hooves of a deer. He looks up and the woman stands, looking down on him, she offers her hand to help him up. Tempted yet puzzled, the man takes her hand and smiles. He stands then pulls her closer to kiss her.The woman looks at him and a tear runs down her cheek as her eyes change and her face starts to become distorted as if something was within her, she looks helpless. The man starts to grab her and scream out to her, who are you! The woman starts to fight him, clawing his face and thrashing his body. The man is frightened and confused. The woman starts to push him; he lands on his back while fighting her off. The woman is too strong; he cannot hold her back from him. He blacks out for a moment only to see a large doe standing upon his chest it is a deer! The man is in shock. The mighty doe looks down upon him and shakes her head and starts to pounce on him violently. The man screams but he can only hear the distant sounds of the drums rolling in the stomp grounds. He hears a vague announcement over the loud speaker that he was to get ready for the next dance. The powerful doe continues to ambush him for what seems to be eternity.
The man looks up, in great pain as he takes his last breaths before he meets mother earth. He sees the woman standing before him, half beauty half deer. She smiles then descends into the trees, leaving him to die alone...
This is one of my favorite translations of this story. This version is the one I like to share with my friends and family. There are many sides of this story. In fact, each tribe holds a different report with how the men meet the Deer Woman.But, each story has the same meaning and message.It has been reported that the message originated when a group of men many years ago took the purity of an innocent woman from a nearby tribe. They left her in a field to die after their grisly attack. Rumor is 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 Gods, obviously a female. 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.Like I mentioned above, there are many versions of this story, this just happens to be my favorite. The messages behind Native American stories are just amazing. This is a great way to teach about the wrongs and rights of life.
Just goes to show you that legends are timeless and lessons can be temporary. Perhaps we should all make our life’s lessons into legends?
By- Tonya Hacker © 2013