Photo by Paul Neevel.

Daphne Singingtree

“I always knew that my father was Lakota,” says Daphne Singingtree, who was born into a dysfunctional family that moved a lot in Utah, “but my parents divorced when I was four and I never saw him again.” When she was 12 years old, Daphne left home and discovered the Rainbow Farm commune in Drain, Oregon. “I met a hitchhiker who told me about it,” she explains. “That’s where I got turned on to herbs and home birth.” Her childhood name was Daphne Duncan, but she chose the single name Singingtree when she was 15, then later reclaimed her first name Daphne. “I spent over 30 years as a midwife,” she notes, “and I helped write the law for licensing midwives in Oregon.” She has written books on midwifery, operated midwifery schools in Eugene, and opened her midwifery booth at the Oregon Country Fair in 1974. She supported the booth by selling her own herbal products, notably Kale Sprinkles seasoning mix and Mosquidaddle mosquito repellant. “When I was 50 years old, my aunt got a hold of me to tell me that I had inherited some land on the Standing Rock Reservation,” she says. “That’s when I learned I was a member of the Standing Rock Tribe. I didn’t know anything about my heritage.” A few years later, in 2016, she watched on Facebook as Dakota Access Pipeline protestors were attacked by police dogs on the reservation. Though she had limited mobility due to broken legs from a car accident five years earlier, she was moved to join the protest. “I decided I had to go,” she says, so she texted her niece in California. “She drove up and out to North Dakota with me. I ended up being there four months.” Singingtree came home for supplies, then returned to set up an herbal and medical station, where she treated protesters injured by tear gas and rubber bullets. “It was the largest gathering of different tribes that ever occurred,” she says. “Water protectors were the warriors who walked towards danger to protect their community. We lost that battle, but the seeds were planted: now the pipeline companies say, ‘We don’t want another Standing Rock.’” Singingtree’s newest project is the Zaniyan Center, a nonprofit organization promoting health through plants and connection with the Earth. Learn more at

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