Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

Billy Mills crosses the finish line of the 10,000-meter race in the 1964 Olympics.
Billy Mills crosses the finish line of the 10,000-meter race in the 1964 Olympics.
U.S. Marine Corps photo
September 18, 2014

Billy Mills Tours America on 50th Anniversary of Gold Medal

By Karin Eagle

Native Sun News Staff Writer

OGLALA - Fifty years ago a young Oglala Lakota man stepped up to the starting line of the 10,000 meter run at the 1964 Olympics not knowing that he was about to create history.

On that day in Tokyo winning that race made him the first person in the Western Hemisphere to ever win that event; his record stands to this day.

The year 2014 has been a year of touring for Mills and his wife Patricia across Indian Country, visiting various schools and colleges and other events to help commemorate the 50th anniversary of his historic win.

Mills returned to his own reservation at Pine Ridge, and was honored by not only one tribal flag, but two. One was presented during a powwow hosted by the Oglala Sioux Tribe by the President Bryan Brewer. On behalf of the Running Strong organization that Mills created on Pine Ridge, Dave Lone Elk presented another flag in appreciation for the assistance that the program offers to Native youth.

The powwow was held at the Prairie Wind Casino near Oglala. Fourteen drums registered to participate in the powwow, with Cante Tiza drum group acting as host drum. More than 50 dancers were in attendance for the powwow which included dance competitions for all categories.

Mills was on hand throughout the duration of the powwow for autographs, photos and a very poignant moment when he was given the microphone and stood in the center of the dance arena and spoke. He spoke about the future of Native American young people and all of the accomplishments that were just waiting to be made; the potential of each and every child who just needed the right encouragement and support of their families and community.

The powwow, which went on into the early morning hours of Saturday, was so well attended that there were concerns about reaching the building capacity and for most of the evening offered standing room only for the crowd.

Mills will continue his tour through the end of the year. For more information on the Running Strong Program as well as his next tour stops visit


(Contact Karin Eagle at [email protected])

Copyright permission Native Sun News

Read more about Billy Mills and his Olympics feat on Wikipedia.

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