Olympian lectures at media symposium

Josh Chilson

Josh Chilson

Olympic gold medalist and inspirational speaker Billy Mills will speak to students Oct. 6 as part of the 2006 Native American Media Symposium.

The symposium, sponsored by the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, is a gathering of many prominent members of the Native American journalism community. There will be several panel discussions on various Native American issues, as well as several speakers in addition to Mills. These events will take place in the Performing Arts Center and are open to the general public.

Students from six different reservation schools have been invited to the event and many of them will take part in a special session with Mills himself.

Mills, a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe, is one of South Dakota’s most famous athletes. He won the 10,000-meter run at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, said to be one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history.

Since his victory, Mills has been an active member in the Native American community. He has spent much of his life as a motivational speaker. In addition, he has a charitable foundation that helps less fortunate communities with programs like youth centers and clean water development projects.

“He is a great role model for youth, especially Indian youth,” said Doris Giago, a journalism professor and Oglala Lakota tribal member.

Mills grew up on the Pine Ridge reservation and was raised mainly by his older sister because he was orphaned at an early age. He attended college initially at the Haskell Institute and later at the University of Kansas, where he was named an NCAA Cross Country All-American three times. His running career climaxed in 1964 when he came from behind to win the gold medal at the Olympics.

The film “Running Brave” is based on Mills’ life. Donna Hess, head of the sociology department, shows it to many of her classes. She says it is a student favorite. Both Hess and Giago encourage students to see Mills speak next week.

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