Natosha Gobin (Bello Dondja/MSD25)

Natosha Gobin (Bello Dondja/MSD25)

She teaches the traditional language of Coast Salish tribes

Natosha Gobin is spreading her passion for Lushootseed to tribal and non-tribal students.

This is one of 12 finalists for the Herald Business Journal’s annual Emerging Leaders award, which highlights and celebrates people who are doing good work in Snohomish County. The winner is to be announced during an online event on Thursday. Meet the other finalists.

Natosha Gobin, 39

Language teacher, Tulalip Tribes

Natosha Gobin loves the history that words can tell.

“Language and culture go hand-in-hand,” said Gobin, who teaches Lushootseed, a traditional language spoken by Coast Salish tribes who lived near the shores of Puget Sound.

Gobin at an early age fell in love with Lushootseed, which offers insights into how its speakers lived, thought and “shaped this region,” she said.

bəčaliʔqʷaad, which means “Lay Down Your Heart, Let Go of Fears,” and haʔɬ x̌əč — Good Heart, Good Mind — are more than words. They are principles that can change lives, she said.

Gobin hopes to bring the language and the awe it inspires in her to younger generations.

“I want my whole community to feel that,” she said.

For nearly two decades, she has taught Lushootseed through the Tulalip Lushootseed Language Department.

Last fall, she broadened her reach and began teaching Lushootseed at Marysville Pilchuck High School.

The Marysville School District and the Tulalip department partnered to bring the classes, which are open to all, to high school students.

Growing up, Gobin always knew she wanted to serve the community.

Her father worked in the medical field. Her mother was a teacher.

In high school, she was weighing those two options — nurse or teacher — when she landed an internship with the Tulalip Tribes’ Lushootseed department.

“I quickly fell in love with it,” she said. “I feel lucky and blessed that I found my place at such a young age.”

Gobin’s greatest joy are her five children, ages 6 to 14.

“They are my daily motivation to learn as much as I can, and pass on those teachings to others,” she said.

When she volunteers, her children are by her side.

It’s the legacy of growing up in a blended family and the experience of having two fathers and two mothers, she explained.

“I know how hard my parents worked because they brought us to work … to clear roads, to clean buildings, to teach,” Gobin said.

You’ll find Gobin giving the blessing and her children selling balloons and necklaces at the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club’s annual fundraising auction.

You’ll find her and her children at Halloween, Christmas and Easter events sponsored by “Together We’re Better,” a volunteer group Gobin and others founded to give “community members and their families a place to come together.”

Big Shot Cyrus James, a Tulalip ancestor, had this to say about the power of community: “If you take a stick and bend it over your knee, it will break. If you take a bundle of sticks and try the same, they will not break.”

“Think about what that means,” she said.“We are stronger together. That saying is generations old and it’s still strong.”

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

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