White deer are near and dear to my heart. In Michigan, deer are everywhere. There has been a population explosion in the past 20 to 30 years. About 10 years ago, I nearly wrecked my car about two miles away from home. A large white buck stepped out from the woods. He wasn’t in the road, yet, but I had never seen a white deer. He was stunning and majestic, a sight to behold. I was sick when I heard through the local grapevine that a hunter thought so too. What the hunter didn’t know, and should have, was about the $1000 fine and the fact that they confiscate the deer….so no white deer antlers hanging above his fireplace.
Native people took the names of nature around them. We find many White Deer families, not in Michigan, but in the Dakotas and in Oklahoma as well. White deer are found from Maryland, through New York and Pennsylvania, into Michigan and as far south as Texas. Some are freckled, on the east coast, but here, they are either dark or white, and nothing in-between.
White deer played a part in Native stories and legends as well. They have been part of our habitat, it seems, for a very long time, certainly before contact with Europeans. Early European explorers talked about them in their journals.
A Chickasaw legend can be read here: http://www.ilhawaii.net/~stony/lore128.html
The legend of the white deer has even permeated the Lost Colony mystery. Sir Walter Raleigh left over 100 people on Roanoke Island in 1587 to establish a colony. The first child was born that August, Virginia Dare. The colony was abandoned, unintentionally, by England, and three years later, the colony had moved, apparently joining the Indians on Hatteras Island. A hurricane descended on the rescue party, blowing them back to England, and that is the last we know, for sure, of the Lost Colonists. However, in Native legends, the white deer is said to be Virginia Dare. You can read more about the Lost Colony saga and ongoing research to find the original colonist families in England and their descendants here at www.lostcolonyresearch.org.
If you’d like to see a short video from Wisconsin Public Television about the white deer, it’s lovely and well worth your time, click here: http://wpt2.org/npa/iw20090326whiteDeer.cfm