Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
MENLO, WASHINGTON Chinook Tribal Chairman Ray Gardner does not recall ever meeting slain Ambassador Chris Stevens, but as chairman of the Chinook Tribe has been busy since it was disclosed the late US diplomat was a tribal member.
Ambassador Stevens was killed, along with three other embassy workers, on September 11in Benghazi, Libya, where he was serving as ambassador.
Ambassador Chris Stevens - Chinook
Chairman Gardner spoke via telephone to the Native News Network on Friday afternoon. Out of respect to for members of Ambassador Stevens' family who asked for privacy during their time of mourning, Chairman Gardner has appropriately been guarded in his dealings with the media. Just this week, in conversations with the Stevens family, Chairman Gardner now has approval to speak to members of the media.
Chairman Gardner relayed that numerous tribal chairmen and chiefs from American Indian tribes in the United States and First Nations in Canada have called him to extend their condolences to Chinook Tribe on the loss of Ambassador Stevens.
Chairman Gardner explained that the Chinook Tribe, which was granted federal recognition by President Bill Clinton, had its recognition withdrawn during the George W. Bush administration.
Since the Tribe was stripped of its homelands along the Columbia River during the 1800s, today the Chinook Tribe does not have a reservation. The 3,000 members of the Tribe are dispersed throughout the United States and internationally.
Such has been the case of Ambassador Stevens' immediate family. Stevens was one of three children born in Grass Valley, California to Jan S. and Mary Stevens. His father has served as a Yolo County Superior Court judge, who eventually became a California Assistant Attorney General. His parents divorced when Stevens was 15 years old.
Chinook Tribal Chairman Ray Gardner
Ambassador Stevens earned his undergraduate degree at the University of California at Berkeley in 1982, a Juris Doctorate from the University of California's Hastings College of Law in 1989, and an MS in National Security Studies from the National War College in 2010. He was also a Peace Corps Volunteer, teaching English in Morocco from 1983 to 1985.
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Ambassador Stevens spoke fluent English, French and Arabic, Stevens was nominated by President Obama to be ambassador to Libya on January 23. He was installed on May 22.
His mother was an accomplished cellist, known professionally as Mary Commanday. She moved with her three children to Oakland, California after she and her first husband divorced.
It is through his mother's lineage, Ambassador Stevens was a Chinook Indian. He and his siblings could boast they were direct descendents of Chinook Chief Comcomly, a one-eyed American Indian, who fought along the Americans during the Revolutionary War.
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posted September 29, 2012 7:59 am edt