Mills, B at.jpg
Induction Category & YearSports 1980
Home TownPine Ridge, SD
BirthJune 30, 1938
Pine Ridge Reservation

   Billy Mills
Champion of Excellence

Legends Bio
 Believe, achieve, and determination are key words that describe a special South Dakotan. Billy Mills is an Olympic gold medal champion. He was the recipient of the gold medal for the 10,000-meter race. No other American runner has ever won this honor.

Mills is an accomplished Native American. He is an Oglala Lakota (Sioux) who was raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Life was not always easy for Billy. When he was twelve, both his parents died. This left Billy orphaned and under the supervision of his older siblings. Billy ran to clear his mind and to cope with living in poverty. Billy was sent to a government boarding school for Native Americans in Kansas. Later he attended the University of Kansas on a full scholarship, where he won consecutive NCAA All-American honors in cross country. He graduated with a degree in education. Later he joined the United States Marines.

This practically unknown 26-year-old runner from South Dakota competed in the 1964 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. To prepare for the Olympics, he ran up to 100 miles a week. Billy qualified for the 10,000-meter race and the marathon, but he was not expected to win either event. Billy shocked the world when he came up from behind to win the gold medal in the 10,000-meter race. He “ran like the wind." At the time, he set a world record of 28 minutes and 24.4 seconds.

Today Billy is the national spokesperson of Running Strong. He works hard to inspire the next generations of Native Americans. Through his charity, he has helped many people who were once like him and has raised over 100 million dollars. His charity has helped Eagle Butte and Pine Ridge Indian Reservations in South Dakota. It has created organic gardening opportunities for many people that live on the reservations. Running Strong has also created two dialysis clinics, all to empower the lives of Native Americans. It is notable that Billy Mills and his charity care about the people of South Dakota. He is someone we can all admire for his achievements and determination. Billy always remembered what his father told him - to live his life like a warrior and believe in himself: "Find your positive desires, with desire comes self motivation, with self motivation comes work, and with work comes success."
achieve to accomplish
believe to have confidence something can happen
charity aid for those in need
consecutive following one after the other in order
determination coming to a decision and working towards it
generations the entire group of people who were born around the same time
organic having to do with or coming from living things
poverty condition of being poor; lack of money
recipient someone who recieves
siblings brothers or sisters
Extended Activities

Try creating a word cloud about Billy Mills. Enter words and ideas that you learned about Billy into one of the following websites to create a unique display. Try Wordle, Tagxedo, or ABCya!

Common Core Standards 4.W.1.c (ELA) • 4.RL.4 (ELA)

SD Standards

Jim Thorpe was another Native American Olympic athlete. Create a Venn diagram to compare the two athletes at Read!Write!Think!

Common Core Standards 4.W.7 (ELA) • 4.RI.6 (ELA) • 4.RI.7 (ELA) • 4.RI.8 (ELA) • 4. RL.9 (ELA)

SD Standards

Create a Bio-Poem about Billy Mills. Try to use some of the vocabulary words from the glossary.

Common Core Standards 4.RL.4 (ELA) • 4.RL.5 (ELA) • 4.RI.4 (ELA) • 4.RI.7 (ELA)

SD Standards

Find an area around the school – bike path, city block, etc. and measure the distance around it. Calculate how many times around you would have to go to make the same distance that Billy Mills ran. (10,000 m)

Common Core Standards 4.MD.1 (Math) • 4.MD.2 (Math) • 4.MD.3 (Math) • SMP 1, 4, 5, 6 (Math)

SD Standards

Time yourself running 100 meters, and then calculate how much time it would take you to run 10,000 meters if you ran at the same rate for each 100 meters. How does your time rank with Billy’s? Would you be able to keep up that pace the whole time? Try again, but only this time run 400 meters and then calculate your time. Were you faster or slower? What are some factors that made you faster or slower?

Common Core Standards 4.MD.1 (Math) • 4.MD.2 (Math) • SMP 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 (Math)

SD Standards

Measure your stride and calculate how many steps you would have to take to run (or walk) 10,000 meters. Create a bar graph to compare your steps and those of several others in your family or class. Try using Create-a-Graph or Grapher to make the bar graph online.

Common Core Standards 4.MD.1 (Math) • 4.MD.2 (Math) • 4.MD.4 (Math) • SMP 1, 4, 5, 6 (Math)

SD Standards

Play some traditional Native American music and create a poem or song lyrics to tell about the life of Billy Mills. Online music can be heard at Native Circle or at PowWows.

Common Core Standards 4.RL.5 (ELA) • 4.RI.7 (ELA)

SD Standards

Design a bronze, silver, and gold medal using geometric shapes.

Common Core Standards 4.G.1 (Math) • 4.G.2 (Math) • 4.G.3 (Math) • SMP 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 (Math)

SD Standards

What do you know about track and field events? Go to Kids Sports: Track and Field to learn about the many events. Create a table to compare your favorite events.

Common Core Standards 4.RI.1 (ELA) • 4.RI.2 (ELA) • 4.RI.3 (ELA)

SD Standards

Billy Mills 10,000 Meter Gold Medal Final

1964 Olympic 10,000m
Image Gallery
Mills Billy finishline.jpg
Home Town (Pine Ridge, SD)
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