MINNEAPOLIS – One of the best treats for American Indian journalists is to meet your American Indian heroes in life. Such has been the case for journalist Stacey Thunder (Red Lake Ojibwe), who through the years has interacted with the legendary Olympian Billy Mills (Oglala Sioux).
“He has been my hero since I was a girl and I told him so,” says Thunder, who reflects she caught emotional about telling Mills he has been her hero. “I’ve interviewed him two other times and each time I feel as if I am in the presence of someone really special.”
Thunder, who co-hosted the PBS “Native Report” for ten years, this week released her an interview with Mills for her latest web-based “Indigenous with Stacey Thunder” on YouTube. The interview was conducted over a three day period in October 2014, to commemorate 50 years since Mills won the gold medal in the 10,000 meters race at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Mills’ story is an inspirational story of triumphing over adversity. Orphaned when young, he overcame a deep depression that caused him to contemplate suicide while a college student. He worked through those dark days as he remembered advice his father had given him when he was a child.
In the interview, Mills fondly talks about that advice his father gave him about being broken. His father would tell him that you have to have a dream and pursue it. “He would say, ‘You have broken wings, and if you follow your dreams, someday you’ll have the wings of an eagle,” said Mills.
The just released interview contains great footage of Mills’ 1964 Olympic race filled with great interaction between Mills and Thunder.
Levi Rickert, a tribal citizen of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, is the publisher and editor of Native News Online. Previously, he served as editor of the Native News Network. He is a resident of Grand Rapids, Michigan.