Members of the Chinook Tribe have asked for prayers for the family of tribal member Chris Stevens, the slain U.S. ambassador in Libya.
Stevens, 52, one of the bright lights of the State Department, was one of four Americans killed Tuesday, as part of worldwide protests by people upset over a U.S.,-made anti-Islam film.
Stevens, originally from California, took the job in May to great acclaim by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Chris was committed to advancing America's values and interests, even when that meant putting himself in danger,” Clinton wrote Wednesday in a statement posted on the Facebook page of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli.
The U.S. put all of its diplomatic missions overseas on high alert as Clinton delivered an explicit denunciation of the video as the administration sought to pre-empt further turmoil at its embassies and consulates.
“The United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video,” she said before a meeting with the foreign minister of Morocco at the State Department. “We absolutely reject its content and message. To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible,” Clinton said. “It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose: to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage.”
Stevens’ mother, Mary Commanday, is the first cousin of Chinook tribal elders Catherine Herrold Troeh and Charlotte Davis, both of whom are well known in Pacific County, the historic homeland of the tribe that met Lewis and Clark at the mouth of the Columbia River.
Willapa Bay resident John Herrold is one of Stevens' local first cousins.
Chinook Chairman Ray Gardner said Stevens “lost his life while working towards bringing lasting peace to the region.” “This will be a hard time for their family and they will need our prayers,” Gardner said.
President Barack Obama called Commanday, Stevens’ mother, with his condolences.
Publicly, he described Stevens as a “courageous and exemplary representative of the United States.” Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith and two former Navy Seals, Glenn Doherty and Tyrone Woods, also died in the attack, according to wire sources.
The four “exemplified America's commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe,” Obama said.
Obama, speaking at a campaign event in Golden, Colo., also vowed that the perpetrators would be punished. “I want people around the world to hear me,” he said. “To all those who would do us harm: No act of terror will go unpunished. I will not dim the light of the values that we proudly present to the rest of the world. No act of violence shakes the resolve of the United States of America.”
Born in 1960 in northern California, Stevens had been a diplomat for two decades after previously working as an international trade lawyer in Washington, D.C., according to his biography on the State Department website. Stevens started his career as a Peace Corps volunteer, teaching English in Morocco, then spent more than 20 years working on issues related to the Middle East and North Africa.
As the Chinook grieved for their lost relative, another family member, Joe Brown, posted this message on Facebook late Wednesday:
“My cousin Mary (Stevens’ mom) got two very important phone calls today. One was from President Obama. The other was from from Ray Gardner, chief of the Chinook Indian Nation, who told me, ‘I did call Mary Commanday and let her know that the prayers of the Chinook Nation are with all of your family during this difficult time. I will pass this information to all of our members tomorrow and I will go down to the banks of the Willapa and give a special prayer for all of you. No better place to give prayers then on the banks of the rivers of our ancestors.’ We’re covered. Thank you, Ray Gardner, and klahowya.