Meet a Mustang: The Sixkiller Family
We hope you found the articles and interviews shared by Native American members of the Breck community insightful this month and that as a community we all learned more about Indigeneity. Our last highlight of Native American Heritage Month is an interview with the Sixkiller family. We are thankful for them and for their continued engagement in the Breck community!
How many years have you been at Breck and what is your current grade level(s)? As an alum family, we'd also love for you to include graduation year and how long you attended Breck as a child.
Our oldest child Ella (1st grade) is in her second year at Breck. Because Leah (née Lussier; class of 2003) is an alumna, our family has been part of the Breck community since Leah started kindergarten 20 years ago! Leah also served on the Breck Alumni Council for two consecutive terms.
Share with us any activities that you may be involved in at Breck.
We are active in the Native American families affinity group.
Questions for Native American Heritage Month:
Why are you proud to be Native?
We are proud to be American Indian because we represent the first nations of Turtle Island, which is also commonly referred to as the United States. We represent resiliency, strength, fortitude, and the richest history of ongoing government, culture, spirituality, and language on this land.
What is one way you and your family connect with your Native American heritage?
We are American Indian, so, unlike other groups in the U.S., our identity is not based on heritage or descendancy from a foreign country, but on our current status as citizens of the first nations. Culture is not static, so how we currently live our lives defines our identity. Leah, Ella, Sylvie, and Adam are citizens of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians and descendants of several other tribal nations, and Jesse is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. We often conduct our lives in accordance with traditional cultural, spiritual, and linguistic attributes unique to Anishinabeg (Anishinabe or Ojibwe people). We offer daily thanks to the Creator and practice words in Ojibwemowin (Ojibwe language). The kids dance at powwows in the dance outfits that their maternal grandfather regularly makes for them, and they love listening to traditional creation stories from their grandfather. We regularly discuss as a family that we are the descendants of the first peoples of this land, that we are rooted here since time immemorial, and how those characteristics make us unique.
What do you hope others will understand about what it means to be Indigenous?
We are the ultra-minority in almost all settings, including at Breck, so you likely will need to go out of your way to reach out to us and access our voices and stories.
Questions about Breck:
From a student perspective, what is it about Breck that you enjoy most?
Ella most enjoys art, gym, and field trips.
From a parent perspective, what set Breck apart when choosing an education for your child?
Breck celebrates the whole person. We want to ensure that our children are not only cared for on a daily basis, but also respected, honored, and celebrated. Leah always felt that her identity as an American Indian student was celebrated due to Breck’s unique encouragement of its community to learn about the history, culture, experiences, and religion of one’s self and others. We look forward to our children developing and feeling proud of their whole persons throughout their experiences at Breck.
What is a meaningful experience you have had at Breck?
We have felt so fortunate to participate in the Native American families affinity group. It has instilled an automatic sense of community and welcoming for our entire family.
On Wednesday morning, Upper School students listened to Ugandan climate justice advocate Evelyn Acham.
MS science students collaborated on a climate change research project earlier this year. Their teacher, Ms. Alexander, created a scenario for her students that opened up opportunities for deep conversations about climate justice and helped them understand the complicated nature of negotiating resolutions while also internalizing the need for immediate action to mitigate its impact.
This year, the Breck Math League Team took second in Class 1A at the 2021 Minnesota State High School Mathematics League State Tournament. In a year of virtual practices, meets, and tournaments that literally crossed the International Date Line, the team stuck together and retained their second-place standing for a second year.