“My days are different and unpredictable, as is expected when working within any crisis situation,” says Dawn Pullin, the Washington State Patrol’s Eastern Tribal Liaison.
At any given time, there are over 90 missing and/or murdered indigenous persons in Washington State. Some families and friends have been waiting for answers since 1971. According to the National Criminal Justice Training Center, murder is the third leading cause of death among American Indian and Alaska Native women.
Indigenous women, girls, two-spirited, men and boys of all ages are missing in Washington State, and we’re dedicated to finding them and finding answers.
In late 2019 and 2020 respectively, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) hired two Tribal Liaisons. Patti Gosch has been tasked with assisting families on the Western side of the state. Dawn Pullin, a native of Spokane, is helping families in Eastern Washington. Although physically apart, together our Tribal Liaisons are creating a cohesive relationship between the native communities, law enforcement, and government.
This blog gives you an inside look at our two hard-working Tribal Liaisons. Both women bring tremendous knowledge, experience and dedication.
Patti Gosch was born and raised in southwest Washington state, where her family hunted elk and fished for salmon as a main staple. Recreationally, she – along with friends and family – camped in the Cascades for up to a month, leaving behind the comforts of home. Her love for the outdoors guided her original interests to become a biologist, studying animal behavior.
Her first job in state service was as a seasonal Science Technician with the Department of Fish and Wildlife while attending Clark Community College. This job ended in a knee injury that prevented field work. Rather than settling into a desk job and missing out in field adventures, while recuperating, a state position became available in the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Bureau with the WSP, permitting driver’s loads to safely travel across the state. Ms. Gosch stayed in school with the intent to return to a biology career; however, opportunities with the WSP continued to be presented. She later moved to Olympia to work with the Fire Marshal’s office. She has made a career in civil service to Washington State for 25 years.
Ms. Gosch is a boarding school descendant of St Mary’s Mission, where her grandmother Leah Champagne attended. As a former foster parent, licensed through the Stillaguamish Tribe, and advocate for tribal children in state care, these experiences as well as tribal kinships have connected her to native issues and continue to fuel her mission to engage tribal and non-tribal partners.
She worked with Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (NWHIDTA) program funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) under her mentor, NWHIDTA Director Dave Rodriguez. During her two decades at NWHIDTA, she held the position of the lead Criminal Intelligence Specialist and Tribal Liaison to Washington State Tribal Law Enforcement Agencies. As the Tribal Liaison, she was a persuasive advocate for Tribal Law Enforcement at the state and national levels where she helped build bridges between tribal and non-tribal jurisdictions, creating long standing partnerships.
In 2009, she authored the report, “Criminal Exploitation of Washington State Tribal Lands.” One of the first documents of its type, it has been described as a living document, a copy of which was requested in Washington DC before it was published.
Under the recommendation of a native interview panel, including Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) families and advocates, Patti was selected, and accepted, the position as Tribal Liaison at the WSP headquarters in November 2019, focusing on the MMIW program, acknowledging and expanding the support to men and boys as well.
She continues to experience Washington state’s great outdoors, whether floating on the rivers or gathering huckleberries in the mountains. Being outdoors balances the stresses of the job and everyday chaos that is life.
Dawn Pullin was born in Davenport, Washington, and grew up mainly on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington state; as a toddler she also lived for a short time on the Colville Indian Reservation. Her maternal grandmother Lucy (Elijah) Parr would often make the two hour drive from Wellpinit on the Spokane Indian Reservation to Inchelium on the Colville Indian Reservation to spend time with her. Family and family connection has always been important to her. Dawn has been happily married for 22 years, with three children and two grandchildren.
Sadly, Dawn has had a personal experience with tragedy. Her parents were victims of violence and were shot in their home on February 14, 1987. As a result, her mother, Gloria J. White (Elijah) (Spokane Tribe) lost her life and her father, Clarence “Tootie” White (Colville Tribe), suffered permanent injuries from this incident and tragically took his own life in 1999. Her biological father, Robert “Bob” Flett, Jr. (Spokane Tribe), a retired Spokane Tribal Police Chief, died from complications from diabetes.
After graduating high school, her first significant job was working at the Indian Health Service (IHS), Office of Environmental Health and Engineering in Spokane, WA. Although the IHS provides crucial medical services to tribes, her office was responsible for providing engineering services to develop safe drinking water systems and sewer systems for tribal individuals as well as tribal communities on the reservation. The Spokane office provided service to tribes in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Dawn left her job after 15 years with the IHS when she decided to pursue a college degree on a full-time basis.
Upon completion of her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in 2003, she was hired by the Spokane Tribe’s Temporary Assistance of Needy Families (TANF) Program as an Employment Specialist Supervisor, assisting Tribal TANF clients with employment opportunities. Ultimately, Dawn worked her way up to the position of Director of TANF and became part of the Executive Leadership Team for the Spokane Tribe. She decided to continue her education and in 2006, eventually completed her MBA through the University of Phoenix.
In 2012, Dawn was appointed to the Spokane Tribe’s Enterprise Board of Directors, and soon after was hired as the Chief Executive Officer for the Tribe. She was responsible for a diverse portfolio of tribal businesses. These included four convenience stores, the Two Rivers Resort which was comprised of an RV Park, rental cabins, a marina for houseboat owners, and four tribally owned houseboat rentals. Also, Tribal Credit which provided financial resources and loans, the Tshimakin Creek Testing Lab, an Arby’s franchise as well as overseeing the Tribal timber sales. These enterprises were located upon the tribe’s aboriginal territory and covered a large geographical area. Successfully, under her leadership the many businesses she oversaw became profitable and began generating sufficient revenue which ensured that these businesses were a valuable asset and finally able to sustain themselves without further investment from the Tribe.
A lifelong passion of Dawn’s has always been health and fitness. In 2017, she started her own business in the field of wellness and health. Dawn has always enjoyed running and completed her first trail marathon in July of 2018. She most recently organized a MMIW virtual run in Spokane, WA, to help bring community awareness and provide information about the crisis. Prior to the pandemic, she was a group fitness instructor at Gonzaga University in Spokane and is a huge Gonzaga men’s basketball fan.
In December of 2019, Dawn applied for the position with the Washington State Patrol as the Eastern Washington Tribal Liaison. Dawn felt with her years of experience working in her tribal community, she could add value to the position and the WSP and wanted to be part of the team addressing the missing and murdered Indigenous persons (MMIP) crisis. After the concentrated application and interview process, the outbreak of the pandemic became an interruption to her hiring. Eventually, in spite of this obstacle and with perseverance from the WSP and Dawn, on December 1, 2020, she started her job as the Eastern Washington Tribal Liaison.
Over the past several months, her days have been different and unpredictable as is expected when working within any crisis situation. Since starting her new job Dawn has had many rewarding experiences. But, Dawn’s most rewarding moment thus far, has been successfully helping a niece to locate and reunite with her uncle, this after only a few short days of being contacted and asking for assistance.
The Washington State Patrol is fortunate to have these dedicated and passionate women assisting families, helping find the missing, and building strong, lasting relationships.
Click here for an up-to-date list of missing and murdered indigenous person.