Former Olympic champion Billy Mills, a native of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, says he felt rejected by the white world until he won the 10,000-meter race in the 1964 Games in Tokyo.
“The Japanese judge kept asking me, ‘You are? You are?’ For the first time in my life I could look at someone in the eyes and tell them who I really was,” Mills said at an Indian education workshop.
South Dakota is making progress in improving relations between Indians and whites, said Mills, who now lives in California. But Mills, 52, said Indians still have difficulty getting the respect and representation they deserve.
“I live for the day when there is a constitutional amendment to elect two at-large senators to represent all Indian tribes,” he said. “Then and only then will I have representation.”