Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Midwives in Oregon - 13,000 years ago or longer

This sandal was found in Fort Rock Cave in Southern Oregon in Lake County.   They believe it was made 9,000 to 13,000 years ago.  I look at these sandals often. I am collecting the stories of Oregon's midwives.  Mostly I am trying to go back thirty or forty years to try to understand how midwifery survived  and the people who kept it alive; the people who passed it on.

I look at these sandals and I think women were giving birth in Oregon for at least 13,000 years. Perhaps the person who wore these sandals was a midwife and if not, they were helped into the world by a midwife.   It is an ancient story.

I have done this for some time.  It is a favorite pass time of mine.   I walk along and there the stories are and I pick them up and put them in my pocket, like a cherished shell on the beach.  These days, though, I am making calls, going to meet people.   Its sometimes is a little painful.  Midwives seem wounded.   I am not sure.  Does collecting these stories and saving them for future generations of midwives help?  

I am not sure a story ever can be really finished and certainly not this one.  But we have set a date- Midwifery Day on May 5th of this year.  We have invited people to speak on a panel and we will tell stories and share artifacts of the time when a new generation of midwives connected with the past and brought those skills forward with grace and determination and intelligence.  

It is this thread that draws me in; the way midwifery is handed down from one generation to the next - all the way back to these sandals; left in a cave thousands of years ago.  

I am working with the Oregon Historical Society on this project.  They are going to help preserve this history and bring a story booth to the event on May 5th.   I am also hoping to put together a collection of midwives stories about how midwifery was re-born in Oregon and how they picked up that thread and made it strong again.

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