Who Is the Deer Lady in Hulu’s ‘Reservation Dogs’?

According to Native-Languages, Deer Lady or Deer Woman takes many forms in different tribes, but she is mainly associated with the Potawatomi, Creek, Omaha, and Ponca tribes. In some stories, she is a deer spirit associated with fertility and love. But in other tales, she’s far more dangerous, seducing adulterous men and leading them to either death or heartbreak. She can take human form, deer form, or a mix of the two.

For tribes in Oklahoma, where Reservation Dogs is set, she is a warning for young men, teaching them to be more obedient and better to women. Men who incur her wrath are trampled to death. Her origin story varies, but some claim she was raped as a human and turned into a deer. Other stories say that she is different from the original Deer Woman, but the Deer Woman brought her back to life as Deer Lady after she was murdered.

Because she always appears a little different and with various motives throughout her stories, Reservation Dogs was able to change her tale while still staying true to her roots. The Deer Lady Big meets as a child is an avenger, putting all sorts of
ne’er-do-wells in their place and protecting and helping innocent people.

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