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Q&A with Sealaska’s New Board Youth Advisor Tiadola Silva

Every year, Sealaska directors select a shareholder descendant to serve a one-year term as the Board Youth Advisor (BYA). Tiadola Silva was selected as the 2021-2022 BYA. In this position, Silva will provide input and gain board membership training and knowledge of Sealaska’s operations.

Silva is originally from Angoon and now lives in Juneau. Her parents are Jeremy Martin and Juanita Silva. Silva is Tlingit, of the Eagle moiety, and from the Thunderbird Clan. Her Tlingit name is Glúdas. Silva graduated from Northwest Indian College with an associate degree in general science and a bachelor’s degree in Native environmental science. Silva is currently serving as an environmental stewardship technician with Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.

Q: How do you want to give back to the community?

A: You need to listen to the needs first and see in what areas you can help. Community outreach is very important to me. I like to listen to the needs and try to fill in where I can. So, whatever those needs are, be there. Be there for support and just kind of uplift them. So, taking on this role, I’m very excited to hear what all of the communities need. That way, I can report back to the board, and hopefully those issues could be met. I wanted to take on this position to be that resource for the smaller rural communities.

Q: What do you hope to learn through serving as the BYA?

A: I want to learn the process of Sealaska and how they operate. I’m very familiar with how the tribe operates. I always wanted to know how Sealaska operated. They seem so well organized, like a well-oiled machine. I just wanted to learn the ropes behind the Sealaska. I want to learn more leadership skills from my people here in the Southeast – the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people. I feel like the cultural aspect of the corporation is something they (Sealaska) very much value, so I just really want to jump in there and see what it is all about.

Q: Why did you pick your major?

A: When I was in elementary school—third grade to be exact—I knew I wanted to be a marine biologist. Science has been my favorite subject since, and it was obvious that I would pick a science major.

Q: Who are you mentors?

A: I have quite a few. Aissa Yazzie, Julia Orloff, Jim Parkin and Senator Albert Kookesh.

Julia Orloff and Aissa Yazzie were my advisors during my first year at Northwest Indian College and my professors. They constantly checked up on me before, during and after school hours. Between school and my personal life, they always knew what to say. They were comforting with their words. They encouraged me the whole way.

Jim Parkin was my science teacher from 7th through 12th grade, and he was always there for me. He helped me with applications and always gave me advice and recommendations.

Albert Kookesh was one of my mentors when it came to my high school days. He always encouraged me to keep going to school, telling me I need to finish. Albert would call me or tell me in person, “Keep going. You are one of the leaders for our people.” Coming from a small community, college was hard. Albert would always say, “You can do it.”

Q: Why did you want to apply to the BYA role?

A: I applied for the BYA role to strengthen and grow my leadership skills.

Q: What are your personal goals?

A: A personal goal is to gain some experience from this role. I also sit on Tlingit & Haida’s Youth Commission board and just got elected as the first vice president. I want to learn more about the tribes, and gain leadership skills and make more connections with our Elders and our board of directors. I hope to gain as much knowledge as possible and go back for my master’s degree in environmental science.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?

A: I enjoy kayaking, camping, fishing with my family and spending time with my family and friends. I like to watch basketball with my dad. Beading is a hobby that helps me when my life gets overwhelmed. It’s always my escape.

 Random facts about Silva:

  • I am a huge “Friends” fan; it’s the best show ever.
  • I am a certified scuba diver; I love being in the water. I was convinced I was half fish when I was a child.
  • Smoked salmon is my favorite food.