Daphne Singingtree began studying herbs at the age of 12, when she left home to live on her own. It was the seventies: it didn’t seem as strange then as it does now. She was in the middle of the 6th grade and that was the end of her formal education. She did what is now called unschooling, read books, traveled, learned about what interested her, like herbs and midwifery, when she was 17 without any formal course of study she passed her GED, and did not go to college until her late 40’s.
In 1972, while living with the Rainbow Family Tribe she was first exposed to herbal medicine and home birth. From there she started studying on her own. She moved to Berkeley, California to study with Mildred Jackson, a respected Elder and naturopathic doctor, and the author of Alternatives to Chemical Medicine.
From 1974-1977 she worked with the Tribal Healing Council, a federally funded program that studied natural alternatives to drug abuse. For several years, the Tribal Healing Council travelled the US, Mexico and Central America, visiting and learning about traditional medicine from many different Native and Indigenous peoples. In 1974, she attended Instituto Naturista in Antigua, Guatemala for Natural Medicine.
In 1975, she turned her focus to midwifery, briefly attended the People’s School of Midwifery in Arcata California, but, primarily, learned through apprenticeships and self-directed study. She apprenticed with her husband at the time, Russ Nickels, MD, MPH, who was board certified in Family Practice, and an early advocate of home birth. She helped him open a birth center; together they had a busy home birth and birth center practice in Brookings, Oregon. After they parted ways, she developed her own thriving home birth and birth center practice in the Eugene, Oregon area until she retired from clinical practice in 2003.
In addition to being a midwife, she has also been deeply involved in midwifery education and law in Oregon. She is the author of the Birthsong Midwifery Workbook, The Emergency Guide to Obstetric Complications, and Training Midwives: A Guide for Preceptors. A pioneer in direct entry midwifery, she was a founder and a board member of the Midwifery Education and Accreditation Council, helped write the Oregon Midwifery law, served on the Oregon State Board of Direct Entry Midwifery and was the chair of the Education Committee for the Midwives Alliance of North America. She is the founder of the Birthsong School of Midwifery, the Oregon School of Midwifery, Aviva College and Zaniyan Center.
Since 1974 she has had a booth at the Oregon Country Fair, first selling a few herbal products she made, then later promoting midwifery. In 1977, getting her booth ready for the year with her son Alder, then a toddler, they were swarmed with mosquitoes. She went home and formulated what is now called Mosquidaddle, the organic mosquito repellant that that also helps the bites. This formula was so effective she sold out the first year, and selling out almost every year. Thousands of Oregon Country Fair goers swear by the effectiveness, and use it all over the world. She only made and sold it at the Oregon Country Fair, as she had a busy midwifery practice and her family was increasing to four children. She was approached many times by those wanting her wholesale it, but she did not want to put her energy into being a product manufacturer. Mosquidaddle sales supported the OCF booth expenses so she could promote midwifery. After turning down someone who wanted her to wholesale it, they closely mimicked her formula, sold it in natural food stores, where it was eventually bought by OFF, a big insect repellent company.
She started Eagletree Herbs in 1985 with her lifelong friend and business partner Michael Eagle who passed in 2013. In addition to Mosquidaddle, she made 10 or 12 products, which she sold only at OCF and sometimes her website, which was down as often as up. Her focus was on midwifery education, and she did not want to grow an herbal business big enough to become a manufacturing plant. It is only recently that she has focused her energy into the herbal products business.
She also is the founder of Aviva Rock Medicine which operated from 1996 to 2001, providing first aid, medical care and health care outreach for concerts, festivals and outdoor events. After it closed, the volunteers reformed as Harmony Event Medicine.
In 2009, she completed Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management, and, in 2011, she earned a Masters in Education with a concentration in Learning Technology, both from Ashford University.
In 2011, after a car accident badly broke both her legs, after multiple surgeries she spent almost a year between a rehab center, a wheelchair, and having to regain the ability to walk. She started gardening as part of her rehab. She replaced her front lawn with herbs, and turned her lifelong habit of self-directed study to learning about permaculture. The first year after the accident her daughter Trillium came down to organize and help get ready for the Oregon Country Fair months early, she help come up with new products, and despite being her being in a wheelchair, they had more products then they have ever had, got a working website up, and over the last few years expanded to over 150 products. She started doing more events, farmers markets, and it has expanded as a growing business. Daphne still needs quite a bit of help, and launched an intern program to teach people how to make medicine, and learn to grow, harvest and make medicine.
The Kale Sprinkle Story
As part of her lifelong struggle to lose weight she was making kale chips, a batch turned out too salty so she added other superfood herbs as food as medicine to reduce inflammation, boost immunity and support health, like turmeric, garlic, parsley, nettles. Kale Sprinkles was born, this great tasting healthy seasoning mix was a big hit and she quickly sold out what she brought to sale at the Oregon Country Fair. It was so popular and unique, she knew she had a potential commercial product. Some friends saw the potential and made an investment in the business, which allowed her to converted a former laundry room in her house into a licensed commercial kitchen in order to make on Kale Sprinkles to sell in natural food stores in Eugene, and demand is quickly outpacing production. She is now in the process of figuring out how to transition from a little small business hand making products from her home to a bigger enterprise.
Daphne is continues to deal with health and mobility challenges related to her car accident and to her lifelong struggle with her weight. At one point she weighed over 460 lbs. She had weight loss surgery, which helped her lose weight, but she gained a lot back after her accident. She is still working at it every day. After a life of studying and trying numerous diets, including paleo, vegan, vegetarian, raw, etc., she has come to believe in the Flexitarian Diet, which she describes as “Eat mostly plants, occasionally things that eat plants, and try to avoid things made in plants”.
Her Native American heritage comes from the Standing Rock Lakota tribe. At the age of four she lost contact with her father, the Native side of the family, not reconnecting until 2015, 54 years later. All she knew she was Lakota and nothing about family history. Despite this she identified with her heritage at an early age, choosing the Red Road as a spiritual path, and changing her name to Singingtree as a vision name when she was 15. She is a Story Teller and Medicine Maker, and has been recognized as a Medicine Woman by the White Bear Medicine Society. She is currently studying with the Kickapoo Medicine Path with Elder Micreeni Quashmah
She is the mother of four grown children
Alder, Aradia, Terran, & Trillium, three grandchildren,Zane, Gaia, and Lyric.
She is the founder of Zaniyan (a Lakota word meaning a state of health or wholeness) Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to healing and serving the Earth, now in its earliest stages of development. She is hoping to be able to return to service, education, and healing work and spend more time in the garden.
Consulting with Daphne Singingtree is by appointment at her home in North Eugene. While she was a licensed midwife years ago, she is no longer a health care practitioner. She does not prescribe medicine, treat illness or make health or specific herbal recommendations. What she can do is share her knowledge with you and explain the products she sells. No one is obligated to buy products from her. She believes true healing is in the hands of the Creator, and involves mind, body, heart and spirit. She does not charge or take donations for her time. If she has the time, she will give it.