Written in 2001 by
Ronald Joe Record

Teepee Births

Copyright, Ronald Joe Record
All Rights Reserved

In 1977 Melody and i conceived our first child. During the Summer of 1978 we travelled to the Rainbow Gathering in Oregon. We were foolishly idealistic. At the time we were living in an 18' Sioux tipi. Prior to the gathering we stayed at the Rainbow Farm just outside Drain where i cut and skinned my lodgepoles. That was really hard work as it was a little late in the season and the bark had dried to the tree. A few weeks before the Gathering was to begin we hauled everything including my 9 month pregnant wife to the remote wilderness area that was to be the site and started setting up kitchens and protecting water supplies and digging slit latrines. That's hard work too.

We kept thinking Melody would give birth at the gathering but our baby decided to be late. The gathering was, as always, beautiful and peaceful and hectic and on the Fourth of July about 5,000 people hiked up to the highest ground, held hands in circles and chanted. A full rainbow appeared over us.

After the gathering a group of about 30 of us setup what we called a P.E.A.C.E. Camp. This was a prototype of a proposal we were working on with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for an alternative energy village on public land where the idea was we would restore environmentally damageded areas and live for free without impact. Our camp was in a beautiful meadow lookin up at Mt. McLaughlin about 20 miles east of Ashland.

We'd only been in camp about a week when a nearby commune invited everyone over for a full moon celebration. The entire camp went and we were left alone as the full moon rose. Chris picked that night to send Melody into labor. So, there we were, all alone twenty miles from nowhere in a tipi. Labor lasted all night and, right as the sun broke through the tipi entrance, Chris was born. Or, i should say, Chris shot out like a watermelon seed. I caught him and immediately noticed the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. I gently unwound him and he was fine. No crying, just a wide eyed wonder.

A little later the placenta came out and we just left the umbilical cord attached for a while. I also noticed that Melody had torn a bit so i applied a poultice i'd worked up earlier. I think it was golden seal, slippery elm and myyhr. She healed up nicely. After taking care of Melody and while Chris nursed, i cut the umbilical cord and stretched it on a piece of willow i had cut earlier. The idea was to make a one-stringed instrument i called a plunker. I set the plunker outside the tipi to dry.

That morning shortly after the birth we heard cheep-cheeping outside the tipi. We discovered that the dead tree near our tipi was home to two falcons who had hatched eggs that night. Seeing as how Chris was born in a patch of sunlight along with falcon chicks i gave him an Indian name of Sun Falcon. That day we were just in a state of bliss and everyone was overjoyed when they returned to camp.

That night as we slept i heard a grovelling noise outside the tipi. I rolled outside and found myself surrounded by a pack of coyotes. They were eating my plunker! I ran at them hollering and, as they scattered, i was able to retrieve about an inch of umbilical cord. Those damn coyotes ate my plunker.

About five months after the birth of Chris we got pregnant again. The Summer of 1979 we journeyed to the Rainbow Gathering in Arizona. Once again, Melody was fully pregnant. We also had her three sons from a previous marriage. I think folks were beginning to wonder about us. It was quite a challenge taking care of a baby, three boys and a pregnant woman. I could have done a lot better job.

This time i had the tipi poles on the roof of our VW van but i had to carry them down a steep trail deep into this remote canyon. Folks along the trail would help out and we got camp setup ok. In fact, people were so nice helping out i went back up the trail several times to help others carry their gear or tipi poles in. The Arizona site was very beautiful.

After the gathering we established another Peace Camp then moved to Healing Waters, a hippy health retreat near Eden, Arizona. I got a job as the sprout gardener which allowed us to stay there for free. This place was really cool. There were several mineral hot springs which fed into a huge community hottub that comprised one corner of a huge swimming pool. Healing Waters is also known as Indian Hot Springs and was a healing spot for the Indians until some Mormons built a three story Victorian resort hotel there. In the 70's it was purchased by some rich hippies from L.A. and became a widely known hippy hangout. The sprout garden was a covered dugout where i grew burlap bags full of all kinds of sprouts which were used to feed the guests and family of folks who lived or visited there.

Near the sprout garden i had set our 18' lodge which was now adorned with a beautiful medicine wheel over the entrance. The Autumnal Equinox was approaching and a couple thousand people had arrived to participate in a large healing festival we were hosting. A few days prior to the festival Melody went into labor. This was a really hard and long labor. We had a mid-wife and, between us, we tried everything. Melody was hanging off the tipi poles, leaning on a spade, hanging as we held her by her legs and arms, on her back, on her side, on her hands and knees, everything. As the labor progressed she started screaming. Really loud. Thousands of people that day just sat or squatted or walked or soaked - sort of in shock. I don't think those hippies had ever heard anything quite like this. This was primitive raw birth and it wasn't pretty.

Finally, Aloha was born and she was just beautiful. Again, no crying, just big wide-open twinkling eyes. I took her into the swimming pool to bathe in warm mineral water. Everyone breathed a big sigh of relief, we were roundly congratulated and the healing festival continued with lots of sprouts and a brand new baby girl.

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