BETHANY, Oklahoma – Celebrating the third anniversary of the opening of Deer Clan Bookstore, owner Claudette Robertson (Mvskoke) hosted an Oklahoma author signing on the evening of July 28.
Deer Clan Bookstore’s inventory holds books from about 87 Oklahoma authors. Due to the bookstores’ limited capacity, 25 of those authors were in attendance for the celebratory signing.
Robertson hosts the event annually to celebrate her anniversary and give local authors a chance to promote themselves while drawing in new customers.
“Many of them are not well-known,” Robertson said. “But they are local to the area and state.”
According to Robertson, the attendees were not tribal members to her knowledge, but she welcomes the chance to bring more Native American writers and authors to her store.
Robertson also welcomes artwork in her store. She features work from local artist, John Moore (Mvskoke) for sale. The Native artist has many drawings of the different clans featured throughout the store for purchase.
The store works on consignment. Many authors have placed books in the store for consignment sale.
“I have a little bit of everything,” Robertson said about her inventory that includes a variety of children’s books, and history. It also includes American Indian history, some penned by local authors, and several popular book series like romance, crime, and much more.
Remaining open for business has been somewhat of a challenge, as many stores have shifted to digital sales. Even reading has become digital.
It is Robertson’s belief that a bookstore is much more personable. She encourages people to get out to small local bookstores more often, not just hers.
“It’s an experience,” she claims.
Rather than skimming online bookstores, walking into a bookstore like hers can create an opportunity for personable connections with people and books, new and old.
The name of the small bookstore comes from Robertson’s clan, deer.
Growing up in California, Robertson was always destined to move back home closer to her tribe in Oklahoma. It was in the early 90’s when she finally moved home.
After attending Oklahoma University for her doctorate, she did a lot of teaching for various schools, including adjunct teaching at the College of the Muscogee Nation for two years.
Once the pandemic struck, she decided she could finally retire but knew herself well enough to know that retirement for her still meant needing something to do.
Many might call Robertson “crazy”, but it was during the height of the pandemic that she took a chance on her dreams and opened her bookstore in the small college town of Bethany.
It was during her childhood when she became a bookworm. On a walk home from school one day, she noticed a mobile library. This became a regular stop for her, reading all the books she could. Throughout her life she continued reading, and always carried a book with her.
Robertson welcomes new faces in her store. For those who may not have had the chance to visit the store in person yet, they can visit www.bookshop.org to buy a book and give Deer Clan Bookstore credit to help support the small business.
As a small business owner Robertson encourages people to buy local.
“When you buy from Amazon or something like that, your community never sees that,” Robertson said.
She says, “Buy local and fill a pothole,” to encourage local buying and supporting small business.
For more information call Robertson at 405-495-9005.