About this project
Produced by Native Realities (Tribal Force, Tales of the Might Code Talkers, The Wool of Jonesy, DemiCon) and co-edited by Elizabeth LaPensée (Honour Water, Sequential Survivance, Indigenous Love) & Weshoyot Alvitre (Umbrella Academy, Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream, Native American Graphic Classics), DEER WOMAN: AN ANTHOLOGY brings together more than a dozen Native and Indigenous women artists and illustrators to present stories of resistance, survival, empowerment and hope.
Drawing from the inspiration of traditional Deer Woman stories, DEER WOMAN: AN ANTHOLOGY will be a powerful collection of stories by Native women to bring determination and healing to those in need and those willing to listen with their hearts.
“I welcome you to experience this comic with the warning that it is a brutal, beautiful, and unrelenting story that shows a glimpse of the serene chaos that Deer Woman is.” - Elizabeth LaPensée, Creator of Deer Woman: A Vignette
Who Is Deer Woman?
The stories of Deer Woman come from numerous tribes and nations throughout the United States. As Muskogee scholar, Carolyn Dunn tells it, "In some of these stories, a beautiful young woman meets a young man and entrances him into a sexual relationship. The woman is so beautiful that the young man is often swayed by her beauty away from family, home, community. If the young man is so entranced as to not notice the young woman's feet—which in the case of Deer Woman are hooves—then he falls...and stays with her forever, wasting away into depression, despair, prostitution, and ultimately, death." In other stories, Deer Woman uses her sensuality to lure young men or women away from the light of the fire into the deep woods, where she would bring a bloody lesson to bear with her sharp hooves.
In all of the stories, Deer Woman is a powerful, spirit-being meant to remind us (People of creation) to remember our responsibilities, to tend the fire, and to be aware of the powerful forces that exist beyond the homeplace.
Importance of This Work
When Elizabeth conceived the work, it was from both a personal and global perspective of the violence perpetuated against Native women.
In a 2008 CDC study, 39% of Native women surveyed identified as victims of intimate partner violence in their lifetime, a rate higher than any other race or ethnicity surveyed. During a physical assault, American Indian and Alaska Native women were more likely to be injured than women of all other groups and more of these injuries needed medical care.
Federal government studies have consistently shown that American Indian women experience much higher levels of sexual violence than other women in the U.S. Additionally, 34% or more than one in three Native women will be raped during their lifetime.
Culture is Medicine
… it was a traditional healing. … It reached deep into my soul and just made me feel real. … This is from the old people. They've come back to help, to talk, to be with, to share. - Elder Healer reflections on culture medicine.
Healing for Native women is not just of the body and mind, but also of the spirit. Drawing from traditional stories and the wisdom of the spirit-beings helps to create balance. As many traditional Native healers have stated, "culture is the primary vehicle for delivering healing; that connecting with one's culture has both protective and therapeutic value. It is a way of promoting both resilience to and recovery from traumatic events."
As Elizabeth writes in the Vignette, "I hope for more of Deer Woman’s stories to be told, for her to be heard, and most of all, for Indigenous women and our families and communities to heal.”
DEER WOMAN: AN ANTHOLOGY is an act of healing and resilience. It is a celebration of spirit, resistance, and hope. It is the stories of Native women surviving and thriving. This is what we are looking to bring into the world with the help of all you amazing supporters and backers!
The contributors to this anthology range in age and experience. Part of our work is to allow Native women to tell their stories in a way that brings about a connection based on health and hope. We have sought to showcase not just the work of professionals but also emerging illustrators and artists, as a way of exemplifying the work and the issues Native women face, while helping to build a network of support and care. Below is our current list of Native/Indigenous women showcased in DEER WOMAN: AN ANTHOLOGY. Over the course of the campaign we hope to add more Native women to this list.
- Elizabeth LaPensee
- Weshoyot Alvitre
- Nashoba Dunn
- Jackie Moon
- Maria Wolf
- Mia Casesa
- SunRose Ironshell
- Barbara Kenmille
- Chelsea Crespin
- Tammy Begay
- Tatum Bowie
Partners In Arms
“Women’s Self Defense won’t bring empowerment to you... It only seeks to reawaken it. You are already empowered.” - Patty & Dereck Stonefish
As part of our commitment to the work, we are continuing our partnership with the Arming Sisters, an organization that focuses on re-empowering and reawakening the mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health of Indigenous communities through self-defense.
During the run of Deer Woman: A Vignette, we gave $1 from every copy sold to help support their critical work. For the ANTHOLOGY, we are giving 15% of our profits to the Arming Sisters to ensure that their vision is promoted throughout North America. As Patty and Dereck, the founders of the Arming Sisters point out, " So often we forget to heal ourselves before jumping to help others - but if we heal the SELF first, we'll be better equipped to help heal our families, communities, nations...and in turn, the world."
To learn more about the Arming Sisters and their work, click HERE.
Native Realities was established in 2015 and had published more than seven titles to date, including the official re-issue of Tribal Force (the first ever Native American comic book). The company is also the host of the Indigenous Comic Con which held its first ever gathering last November in Albuquerque, NM. Finally, Native Realities is the parent company for Red Planet Books and Comics (Albuquerque, NM), the only Indigenous comic shop in the world. We have a proven track record of publishing
This ANTHOLOGY would be no where without our amazing editorial team. Both Elizabeth and Weshoyot bring decades of experience to this work and will be instrumental in guiding DEER WOMAN: AN ANTHOLOGY to completion and into your hands.
- Elizabeth LaPensee
Elizabeth LaPensée, Ph.D. is an award-winning writer, designer, and artist of games, comics, transmedia, and animation. She is Anishinaabe, Métis, and Irish, living near the Great Lakes as an Assistant Professor of Media & Information and Writing, Rhetoric & American Cultures at Michigan State University.
Most recently, she designed and created art for Manoominike (2016), a motion game about practices of wild ricing, as well as Honour Water (2016), an Anishinaabe singing game for healing the water. She designed and programmed Invaders (2015), a remix of the arcade classic Space Invaders. She also designed The Gift of Food (2014), a board game about Northwest Native traditional foods. She is currently working on Thunderbird Strike, a side-scrolling lightning-searing attack on oil operations.
Her ongoing work was recognized with the Serious Games Community Leadership Award (2017).
- Weshoyot Alvitre
Weshoyot Alvitre is a female illustrator and comic book artist. She has a BA in fine art and studied illustration and animation. She is Tongva, Gaelic & Scottish.
She has contributed to many award winning books including the Eisner award winning Umbrella Academy (Darkhorse Comics) and Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream (Locust Moon press). Her most recent projects include art for Codetalkers Volume 1 (Native Realities Press), Moonshot volume 2 (AH comics inc), Rosebud magazine #61 and including work in several gallery shows across the country to bring awareness to the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
. . .but I imagined her like this, not a stained red dress with tape on her heels but the deer who entered our dream in white dawn, breathed mist into pine trees, her fawn a blessing of meat, the ancestors who never left. - Joy Harjo (Muskogee), Deer Dancer from In Mad Love and War (1990),
What you see on this page is just a small sample of the full DEER WOMAN: AN ANTHOLOGY and we will continue to post more works as the campaign progresses! We hope to expand our content over the next month during this Kickstarter as we continue to recruit Native and Indigenous women illustrators who wish to share their story or their art to this book.
The funds we raise from your pledges will be going primarily to support the printing and shipping costs of the ANTHOLOGY (including fulfilling your rewards). Additional funds raised will go to the artists to support current and future work.
With your help, we can bring this work into the world through a spirit of collective support and healing!
Risks and challenges
Currently, we are 50% complete with the anthology. Over the next several months, we will be finalizing the art and securing licenses for other pieces to include in the work. As with any artistic endeavor, there are the possibility of delays. However, Native Realities has a strong record of achieving our deadlines for production and delivering finished products in a timely manner.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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