PHOENIX (KSAZ) - An American Indian Icon was murdered in cold blood. It's been nearly a week since 78-year-old Jess Sixkiller was gunned down in his West Phoenix home. Now police have announced a reward for information in the case, as his family plans to lay him to rest.
Detectives are asking for the public's help in finding the person responsible for killing Jess Sixkiller. They've offered a $1,000 reward through Silent Witness. Family and community members continue to plea for the gunman to come forward.
"We're really losing a major piece of living history," said Patti Hibbeler.
The American Indian Community is still reeling from the loss of Jess Sixkiller. He was the most active in the Phoenix area in the late 1970's, paving a path for American Indians in the city, opening up opportunities that would not exist without him.
"That activism in the 70's really led to where we are for Native people today, they've really treaded the waters and moved forward in ways that make us more successful in urban cities today and Jess was clearly a part of that," said Hibbeler.
A relentless fighter for American Indian rights, community leaders say Sixkiller asked questions no one was willing to voice and did not back down in demanding answers. He was also a member of the Arizona Territorial Guard Society, often seen at pow wows, keeping his Cherokee heritage alive.
"He was in the rhythm of the drum, you could feel that cultural connection, the heart of Indian Country, and to see Jess out there in his full regalia, so proud, that was a special moment," said Karen Thorne.
The person who kicked down Sixkiller's door and gunned him down early Friday morning remains unknown and on the loose.
"Whoever you are you need to take responsibility for this terrible act, you've taken something valuable from the family, and the community," said Thorne.
Funeral plans are in process, he will be honored with a traditional Cherokee ceremony this weekend.
Silent Witness is offering $1,000 for information leading to an arrest if anyone has information they are asked to call Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS.