TULALIP — Hank Gobin, an elder of the Tulalip Tribes, passed away on April 25 at the age of 71.
Born and raised on the Tulalip Reservation, Gobin left at the age of 21 to further his educational goals, and returned in 1989, "like a migrating salmon returning home," in his words.
Gobin served as the Tulalip Tribes' Cultural Resource Manager for 24 years, playing an instrumental role in the development of the Tulalip language program, in addition to working with the community to set the foundations of the cultural teachings, protocols and values surrounding the Tulalip Tribal family canoe journey.
Gobin also worked closely with tribal, federal, state and local governments and agencies on issues of cultural and environmental interest, establishing standards that met the needs and concerns of the Tulalip Tribes, whose spokespersons credited Gobin's spiritual pathway with providing those cultural foundations where they were important, as he applied those cultural values and beliefs to the day-to-day aspects of his own life as well.
Throughout his career, Gobin dedicated much of his work toward building a Tulalip Tribal museum, a vision long held by the Tribes' other elders and members, who cited Gobin's hard work and dedication as key in turning this dream into a reality. He advised, initiated and designed what became the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve, whose goals are to tell the Tulalip peoples' story in their own words, and to honor the Tribes' past, present and future peoples.
Tulalip Tribal Chair Mel Sheldon Jr. acknowledged the difficulty of summing up Gobin's legacy in just a few words.
"Our community mourns the loss of a truly great man," Sheldon said. "He was a prolific artist, activist and traditional scholar, who worked in the areas of art, education, language revitalization, museum studies and traditional foods research. With the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve, Hank leaves the Tulalip Tribes with a precious gift, for it was Hank's vision, dedication and commitment that made the long-held dream of our elders a reality. Hank was a brilliant, talented, generous and kind man who dedicated his life to protecting and preserving our Tulalip culture. He will not be forgotten."
Hank Gobin was laid to rest on April 29. He is survived by his wife, Inez Bill-Gobin.