Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Lydia Silva and I am 38 years old. I am Pikuni and I am the daughter of Carl B. Schildt and Margaret Schildt. I have 6 half brothers and sisters from my dad and 1 brother from my mom and dad. I was born on the Blackfeet Nation and lived there until I was about 6. My father passed when I was 5 and after a year or so, we moved to Southern California. Montebello, CA to be exact. We then moved to Las Vegas, New Mexico when I was 15, then to Gallup, NM. Around the age of 18, I moved back to California and then back to New Mexico, this time to Albuquerque. That is where I met my husband Robert. We went out once and have been together ever since. We have been together for 20 years and married for 18 years in May. We have 3 absolutely wonderful children together. We moved around in New Mexico and ended up in Gallup again. After five years of living there we decided to move to Missoula, MT. I needed to come home to Montana. We have been here for 6 ½ wonderful years. Our kids 15, 13, and 10 love it here, so that makes us happy. My family is everything to me.
I graduated from Salish Kootenai College (SKC) in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I am now attending an online program for my master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology and will continue on to earn a PhD. in the same field. For my capstone at SKC, I created a film about different perspectives on historical trauma, with interviews from people who have worked with and/or experienced historical trauma. I currently work for Missoula Urban Indian Health Center where I am the Wellness Specialist. At the Indian center, I am able to interact with the community and develop collaborations with other agencies. I am a presenter on historical trauma (using the film I created) and a trainer for the Community Resiliency Model through The Trauma Resource Institute. I also help people get health insurance through the market place and help them apply for Medicaid. I have also dabbled in marketing for the center. I really enjoy where my job has taken me thus far and I think it will only get better from here on out.
What is your favorite time of day and why?
My favorite time of day is in the evening when I am home with my family and we get to visit with each other and see how everyone’s day went.
What is one of your favorite quotes?
I have many but here are a few.
“The ground on which we stand is sacred ground. It is the blood of our ancestors.” -Chief Plenty Coups, Crow
“An Indian is an Indian regardless of the degree of Indian blood or which little government card they do or do not possess.” -Wilma Mankiller
“No one is ever a victim, although your conquerors would have you believe in your own victimhood. How else could they conquer you?” -Barbara Marciniak
“Good words do not last long unless they amount to something.” -Chief Joseph
Tell us about a woman you admire.
That would have to be my mother, Margaret Schildt. She is an amazing woman. She raised my brother and me by herself after the passing of my dad. She battled cancer and won. She is a licensed clinical Social Worker (LCSW). She worked in the southwest for 17 or so years as a clinical director. Her focus was sexually abused children. She is continually underestimated by those who don’t know any better. Once she does her work she is looked at in a different light and most people have the utmost respect for her. She currently works for Salish Kootenai College as a psychology instructor and I believe she is the first instructor to teach a class about historical trauma, at a tribal college in Montana at least. One of many firsts for her. She is someone who I aspire to emulate.
What was the last movie, TV show or book that really impacted you and why?
The only movie that comes to mind is What Dreams May Come with Robin Williams. It is an older movie but for some reason it really made an impact on me. I think it is because of the loss of my father and at that time, I really hadn’t dealt with my issues around that loss.
What’s one hobby or activity you’d like to get into, if you’d have the time?
I wouldn’t mind learning how to bead.
Describe one of your happiest memories.
One of them is when I was able to speak on my father’s behalf at a national TERO conference and my oldest daughter was there with me. TERO is Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance and this enactment allowed Native Americans to apply and get hired for employment on their reservations by outside construction companies. Before TERO, construction companies came on to reservations and did not hire Native people – they preferred to hire nonnatives. My father was the first in Montana to bring TERO to the Blackfeet Nation. He set a precedent for other Montana tribal nations to do the same.
What do you value most in a friendship?
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?
I would want to wake up with the ability to heal myself and others. I think that would be pretty cool.
When do you most feel yourself?
I feel most myself at home with my family.
Coffee or tea?
Usually coffee, but lately, I have discovered a liking to tea. So, I guess both.
Chocolate or vanilla?
Chocolate for sure.
Introvert or extrovert?
Rural or urban?
Dress up or dress down?
Cats or dogs?
CATS!!! Hands down.
Sunrise or sunset?
Detailed or abstract?
Classic or modern?
Call or text?
Text. If I had a choice I wouldn’t talk on the phone at all. I would rather speak face to face.
Fiction or non-fiction?
Salty or Sweet?
What do you love most about Montana?
Montana is my ancestral home land but it is also simply beautiful, no other place like it. I feel a sense of peace here. I am truly home. This is where my Pikuni bloodline is and has been for thousands of years and will continue to be for the next thousand years. The connection that I have to this land is beyond words.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Recently, I think one of the hardest thing I had to do was listen to my daughter tell me her experience of being bullied and not being able to be there for her to stop it or shield her from it.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
I am most grateful for my children. Without them I don’t think I would be who I am today. They literally saved my life. I hope they know how important they are to me and how much I love them.