Historically, the representation of Native Americans has been presented in a stereotypical way. Danielle Moonstar is one of the most prominent Indigenous superheroes. As a member of the X-Men and New Mutants, Dani has been at the forefront of comics for several years. From her appearance, it’s tempting to assume that she falls into the stereotyping category. The pigtails and turquoise belt are indications of her Cheyenne heritage. However, Dani breaks all the traditional tropes that are associated with her culture and I’m going to tell you why.
Joining the New Mutants
Dani was born with the power to create illusions and to connect to nature. She could communicate with animals and generate images of a person’s greatest desire or fear. Growing up in the care of her grandfather, Black Eagle, Dani joined the X-Men after he was killed by the Hellfire Club. Taking the name Mirage, Dani became a member of the New Mutants.
In her early years, Dani was haunted by a Demon Bear, who she believed had killed her parents. Her fear of the animal was so great that Dani thought about suicide. Her friendship with the New Mutants helped her overcome her fear. The Demon Bear turned out to be the tortured souls of her parents and Dani was able to help them find peace.
Dani’s friendship with her teammates is a crucial part of her personality. They turned her into a brave person and helped her become a better hero. In particular, Dani’s friendship with Wolfsbane is important because she could talk to Rahne in her wolf form.
Connection to Asgard and power loss
At one point, Dani found herself stranded in the Asgardian realm. She found a winged horse trapped in the mud and helped to free it. Naming the animal Brightwind, Dani inadvertently became a valkyrie. Dani’s connection to Norse mythology makes her stand above traditional Native American tropes. As a valkyrie, Dani gained the ability to perceive death. This manifested in a ‘death glow’ around a person in danger of dying.
The mixing of cultures meant Dani had the potential to feature in other stories. In addition to being a part of the X-Men, Dani needed to concern herself with Asgardian affairs. She walked between two worlds as a mutant and valkyrie. She needed to fight against Hela to stop her from taking over Asgard. Dani took her valkyrie duties so seriously that she chose to stay behind in Asgard. This angered the Cheyenne deity, Hotamitanio, who wanted to drag her back to Earth. Dani convinced him to leave her alone as she promised that she would return to her tribe eventually.
After the events of M-Day, Dani was one of the mutants to lose her powers. This could be likened to a loss of identity, in a similar way to how Native Americans lost their culture when America was colonised. When Dani became human, she lost a piece of herself. That didn’t stop her from continuing to help the X-Men. She matured into a mentor for young mutants, such as Pixie and Anole, teaching them how to survive.
With the loss of her powers came a greater dedication to Asgard. Her bond with Brightwind is a reminder of the other world that she fights for. In order to help the X-Men, Dani was forced to make a pact with Hela, binding her to the goddess. Even though she hated Hela, Dani was willing to do whatever it took to aid the team that took her in.
Even without her abilities, Dani is a capable fighter. She’s an expert archer, marksman and sword fighter. Dani’s courage and resilience make her more than a stereotype. Her importance as an Indigenous superhero goes without saying.
Dani isn’t the only Native American on the X-Men. Check out this article I’ve written about Warpath to show how he represents the Apache.