Sarah Deer

Sarah Deer
  • University Distinguished Professor

Contact Info

322 Blake Hall


Sarah Deer is a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma and a University Distinguished Professor at the University of Kansas. Her 2015 book, The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America is the culmination of over 25 years of working with survivors and has received several awards, including the Best First Book award from the Native American Indigenous Studies Association. A lawyer by training but an advocate in practice, Deer’s scholarship focuses on the intersection of federal Indian law and victims' rights, using indigenous feminist principles as a framework. Deer is a co-author of four textbooks on tribal law and has been published in a wide variety of law journals, including the Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, and the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. Her work to end violence against Native women has received national awards from the American Bar Association and the Department of Justice. She has testified before Congress on four occasions regarding violence against Native women and was appointed by Attorney General Eric Holder to chair a federal advisory committee on sexual violence in Indian country. Professor Deer was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 2014. In 2019, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. She currently teaches at the University of Kansas (her alma mater), where she holds a joint appointment in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and the School of Public Affairs and Administration. Professor Deer is also the Chief Justice for the Prairie Island Indian Community Court of Appeals.


J.D., with Tribal Lawyering Certificate, University of Kansas School of Law

B.A., Women's Studies, Philosophy, with Honors, University of Kansas


Teaching Interests:

  • Indigenous women
  • Gender, Sexuality and the Law
  • Law and Society
  • Criminal law
  • Feminist jurisprudence

Research interests:

  • Indigenous legal studies
  •  Violence Against Native women
  • Criminal jurisdiction in Indian country
  • Tribal appellate courts
  •  Federal law reform
  • Indigenous feminist legal theory
  • Mvskoke language

Selected Publications

(En)gendering Indian Law: Indigenous Feminist Legal Theory in the United States, 31 Yale J.L. & Feminism 1 (2019).

Raping Indian Country, 38 Columbia J. Gender & L. 31 (2019)(with Elizabeth Kronk Warner).

Return to Worcester: Dollar General and the Restoration of Tribal Jurisdiction to Protect Native Women and Children, 41 Harvard J. L. & Gender 179 (2018) (with Mary Kathryn Nagle). Available at:

Deer, S. (2015). The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America , University of Minnesota Press.

Awards & Honors

National Women's Hall of Fame, 2019

Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, FD200 Feminist Recognition, 2018

University of Kansas Women's Hall of Fame, 2019

Spirit of Excellence Award, American Bar Association, 2016

MacArthur Fellowship, 2014

Allied Professional Award, United States Department of Justice, 2011