Lydia Cultee of Aberdeen, WA, was born March 13, 1921 , in the village of Taholah. She passed away peacefully at her daughter Debby's home, in Aberdeen, on Tuesday, October 24, 2017, at the age of 96.
She attended Taholah School, and attended Chemawa Indian School for a short time, then went on to Moclips High School.
Lydia was a remarkable woman whom eight of us had the privilege to call “mom”.. Around 1939/1940, she married Mr.Chuck Owens, a Blackfoot Tribal Member. They had 1 child, Patricia Owens John, who was born July 4th, 1942.
In 1944, she met James P. Blackburn. They married on Christmas Day, 1945, and, after several years, moved to Springfield, Oregon. They had seven (7) children together, 40-plus grandchildren, and 20-plus great grandchildren. Her children (in order of birth): Lynda Blackburn Jolly, Randolph Blackburn (dec.), Gary Blackburn, Phillip Blackburn, Deborah Blackburn, James Blackburn, and Judy Blackburn (dec.). In February, 1963, James Blackburn Sr. died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 42.
Besides staying busy raising 7 young children, Lydia worked with the Allottees’ Association and held the position of Secretary for several years and she was part of the Allottees group that was instrumental in securing $26 million dollars for the tribe and tribal members. She was actively involved with tribal member land ownership rights and showing how the Federal allotted lands policy facilitated the Federal Government's termination policies towards Tribes since the latter part of the 19th century through present.
She was affectionately known as “Mama Lydia” by all who knew her and enjoyed the company of young people, and her children's friends and others, who stopped by to chat with her. She will be truly missed by all of us who knew her, but our memories of her will remain.
The funeral services honoring her life was held Monday, October 30th, 2017, at the Community Center in Taholah, followed by a dinner after the memorial services. Arrangements are by Harrison Family Mortuary of Aberdeen, Wa.