Native American Shape-Shifters: Deer Woman

Published on November 6, 2012 by Casey

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Deer Woman
Deer Woman

Native American Shape-Shifters: Deer Woman

Name: Deer Woman
Tribal affiliation: Potawatomi, Creek, Omaha, Ponca
Type: Deer spirit, monster, shape-shifter

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A deer spirit of the eastern Woodlands and Central Plains tribes, associated with fertility and love. Like many Native American animal spirits, Deer Woman is sometimes depicted in animal form, other times in human form, and sometimes as a mixture between the two. Although Deer Woman was usually considered a benign spirit who might help women conceive children, some stories portray her as a more dangerous being who might seduce men, especially adulterous or promiscuous men, and either lead them to their deaths or leave them to pine away from lovesickness.

Among contemporary Native American people of Oklahoma, Deer Woman often plays a “bogeyman” sort of role, said to trample incautious people to death, especially girl-crazy young men or disobedient children. Some people say that this more violent version of Deer Woman is actually a human woman who either turned into a deer after being raped, or was brought back to life by the original Deer Woman spirit after being murdered. Others say she is the same old Deer Woman, and just has a few good reasons to be in a worse mood these days!

Source: native-languages Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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Native American Shape-Shifters: Deer Woman Unabridged. Retrieved May 26, 2015, from website:

Chicago Manual Style (CMS):

Native American Shape-Shifters: Deer Woman Unabridged. Native American Encyclopedia (accessed: May 26, 2015).

Modern Language Association (MLA):

"Native American Shape-Shifters: Deer Woman" Unabridged. Native American Encyclopedia 26 May. 2015. <>.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE):, "Native American Shape-Shifters: Deer Woman" in Unabridged. Source location: Native American Encyclopedia Available: Accessed: May 26, 2015.

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    title = { Unabridged},
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    year = 2015,
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