Native American Legends
How the Fawn got its spots
A Dakota Sioux Legend
Long ago, when the world was new, Wakan Tanka, The Great Mystery,
was walking around. As he walked he spoke to himself of the many
things he had done to help the four-legged ones and the birds survive.
"It is good," Wakan Tanka said. "I have given Mountain
Lion sharp claws and Grizzly Bear great strength; it is much easier
now for them to survive.
"I have given Wolf sharp teeth and I have given his little
brother, Coyote, quick wits; it is much easier now for them to survive.
"I have given Beaver a flat tail and webbed feet to swim beneath
the water and teeth which can cut down the trees and I have given
slow-moving Porcupine quills to protect itself. Now it is easier
for them to survive.
"I have given the Birds their feathers and the ability to
fly so that they may escape their enemies. I have given speed to
the Deer and the Rabbit so that it will be hard for their enemies
to catch them. Truly it is now much easier for them to survive."
However, as Wakan Tanka spoke, a mother Deer came up to him. Behind
her was her small Fawn, wobbling on weak new legs.
"Great One," she said. "It is true that you have
given many gifts to the four-leggeds and the winged ones to help
them survive. It is true that you gave me great speed and now my
enemies find it hard to catch me. My speed is a great protection,
indeed. But what of my little one here? She does not yet have speed.
It is easy for our enemies, with their sharp teeth and their claws
to catch her. If my children do not survive, how can my people live?"
"Wica yaka pelo!" said Wakan Tanka. "You have spoken
truly; you are right. Have your little one come here and I will
Then Wakan Tanka made paint from the earth and the plants. He painted
spots upon the fawn's body so that when she lay still her color
blended in with the earth and she could not be seen. Then Wakan
Tanka breathed upon her, taking away her scent.
"Now," Wakan Tanka said, "your little ones will
always be safe if they only remain still when they are away from
your side. None of your enemies will see your little ones or be
able to catch their scent."
So it has been from that day on. When a young deer is too small
and weak to run swiftly, it is covered with spots that blend in
with the earth. It has no scent and it remains very still and close
to the earth when its mother is not by its side. And when it has
grown enough to have the speed Wakan Tanka gave its people, then
it loses those spots it once needed to survive.
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