Editor's note: This is the first of several Ojibwe winter stories that have been shared with the Tribune and will be published over the next few weeks.

When the Creator, GichiManido, created the animals, he walked among them and felt proud of all of them. The animals of the world are beautiful and precious in their own way.

Each animal has something special and unique about it. The bear was given great strength, wolf was given sharp teeth, and coyote was given quick wit. The beaver was given a flat tail, rabbit was given speed, and birds were given the ability to fly.

The Creator was proud of the work he had done and the useful gifts he had given to each.

But soon, a doe approached him. She said, “You have given everyone survival gifts, and that is wonderful, but you have not given my fawn anything to protect her. She is small and afraid and many beings in the forest hunt her.”

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“You have spoken the truth, mother doe,” said GichiManido. “Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone can learn from them and do better.”

So GichiManido thought for awhile, and then took white clay from the earth and painted spots on the fawn.

“Now, even when your baby is alone, she will blend into her surroundings, making her hard for predators to see.”

Then, GichiManido breathed on the fawn, taking away her scent: “Now, even when your baby is alone, no predators will be able to smell her.”

“Thank you, miigwetch,” said the mother doe, for she knew her precious baby would be protected.

And ever since then, every fawn is born painted with white spots and has no scent until they grow enough to take care of themselves.

- As told by Carol Annette Kramer