In recognition of Deer’s untiring work to end violence against Native American women and fight for the rights of indigenous people, she is receiving an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Brooklyn College.

Sarah Deer, professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies, School of Public Affairs & Administration at the University of Kansas, chief justice for the Prairie Island Indian Community Court of Appeals, 2014 MacArthur Fellow, and, as a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, an outspoken advocate for the rights of indigenous people, is the 2020 recipient of an honorary doctor of humane letters from Brooklyn College. Deer will deliver the keynote address at the virtual celebration “Cheers to the Class of 2020” to be held on May 28.

A graduate of the University of Kansas, where in 1995 she received her B.A. in women’s studies, philosophy, with honors, Deer attended the University of Kansas School of Law, where she earned her juris doctor with a certificate in tribal lawyering in 1999. Deer first worked to address violence against women when she was an undergraduate student volunteering as a rape crisis advocate. Her career at the intersection of tribal law and victims’ rights advanced, when in 2008 she joined the faculty of Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Minnesota, where she was also co-director of the Indian Law Clinic. In 2017, she became a permanent member of the faculty at the University of Kansas. Deer also served as an associate judge on the White Earth Nation Court of Appeals from 2014 to 2017.

Named a 2014 MacArthur Fellow and a 2020 Carnegie Fellow for her work to secure justice for Native women who are victims of violence, Deer has demonstrated unflagging service to indigenous people in co-authoring, along with Bonnie Clairmont, Amnesty International’s 2007 report Maze of Injustice, documenting sexual assault against Native American women, and in her crucial role in the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Her work on violence against Native women has received national recognition from the American Bar Association and the Department of Justice.

In addition to authoring many articles and scholarly papers on the issues facing Native women in the United States, Deer is a co-author of three textbooks on tribal law. Her most recent book is titled The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America (University of Minnesota Press, 2015). She has served on numerous advisory boards for anti-violence organizations and projects, including the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, and has been inducted into the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Hall of Fame in 2015, and into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2019.