As we approach the remaining Presidential primaries, on our journey to elect the next President of the United States, I am reminded of words my father shared with me when I was a child. "Son, choose the words you speak, for once you say them you can never take them back." I often refer to the words of wisdom he would share with me as if they are forever etched into the footprints he left on Mother Earth.
My name is Billy Mills. I am a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation. My heritage is of strong Indigenous and European ancestry.
As a registered Republican listening to the words of our Republican leadership, observing their actions and witnessing the footprints they are etching into Mother Earth, I am reflecting back on the impressions left by my ancestors. Their footprints, Indigenous and European, began merging and conflicting in 1492 and continue to this day.
Perhaps a quick review of what caused the merging and conflicting, and the legacy created, will give us valuable insight and challenge us to seek the wisdom needed as we elect our next President and continue to choreograph our journey seeking the horizon of our future.
In 1492, new lands were discovered and the imperial powers of the world wanted their share of the land and its wealth. On May 4th, 1493, Pope Alexander VI issued a Papal Bull Inter Caetera, the Doctrine of Discovery. The Doctrine basically states that any new lands found occupied by non-Christians can only belong, courtesy of the Vatican, to the first Christian Monarch who discovers them. And the nonChristian "Pagan" occupants must come under international rule of law. Our laws, customs, etc. will no longer exist. We must be brought to Christianity. Later it was decided we had no souls and we didn't qualify to be Christians.
The Doctrine of Discovery justified legal theft of all the lands comprising the Americas. Now the lands had to be developed, farmed, etc. Slavery soon followed.
In 1823, the U.S. Supreme Court adopted the Doctrine of Discovery as its policy toward the treatment of all Indian tribes, thus giving the United States ownership of all the land. Treaties could be signed and then broken because the land was a gift to the United States from God. Manifest Destiny was born. Additional taking of land from Tribal Nations continued by executive order and Federal statutes.
The historical legacy that the Doctrine of Discovery, Manifest Destiny, and slavery have had on America is devastating and should never be forgotten. However, many of the footprints of those affected have been intentionally washed away through the passage of time. The social and political structures in place today have been shaped by that legacy: institutionalized racism influences our rule of law and governs much of our decision making today as we visualize the future of our country and our place in the larger global society.
Never in the history of our country has the need been greater for our Governments - Federal, State, and Tribal - to come together and alongside our marketplace, choreograph our future into the balance of the 21st century and into the 22nd century.
The Governments and businesses that have value-based vision and mission statements and encourage everyone to commit to live those values legally, ethically, and morally to protect their bottom line and develop a strong social consciousness to empower communities in need, will become the brand names of the 21st century.
Senator Bernie Sanders is the only candidate running for President of the United States that has the vision, the understanding and the judgment to bring our Governments - Federal, State, and Tribal - together to choreograph our future: a future that will make the American Dream a reality for all citizens and citizens to be.
He has shown time and time again, integrity in his decision-making. He will make the right decisions as he addresses the issues threatening the future of America today.
Issues such as profit-at-all-cost: the Achilles heel of our free enterprise system that has created severe economic inequality.
Issues including a crumbling national infrastructure, racial injustice, a broken criminal-justice system and the War on Drugs, which many feel is a new form of Jim Crow law designed to criminalize young men of color.
He wants to make college affordable, make the United States a leader in reversing climate change, provide equal pay for women and wants to raise the minimum wage. He will take on Wall Street and initiate real tax-reform asking the wealthy and large corporations to pay for their share.
Of the many other issues he will address, I am very excited about his commitment to stand with Native Americans in the struggle to protect their treaty and sovereign rights, advance traditional ways of life and improve the quality of life for Native communities.
For example, since the 1978 Supreme Court decision in Oliphant V. Suquamish Indian Tribe, native nations have lacked inherent jurisdiction over nonNatives who commit crimes against tribal members on their land. Sanders calls for the restoration of jurisdiction over all crimes on tribal land. He is committed to naming senior level tribal appointees with access to executive agency leaders to promote meaningful consultation with Native Americans.
I am voting for Bernie Sanders to be the next President of the United States of America. Join me in voting for a future that will make the American Dream a reality for all of our citizens and citizens to be.
It is a future that will at the same time keep America a leader among industrialized nations of the world and a sacred light of understanding for the developing nations.
He has the positioning and the momentum in the closing weeks of the Democratic Presidential primary. The race is not over yet. Let’s give Senator Bernie Sanders our vote. Our vote equals the American Dream.
Wesley Roach, Skan Photography
Who is Billy Mills?
Billy Mills was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Although Pine Ridge is very rich in culture and spirit, it is continually recognized economically as one of the poorest communities in America with unemployment reaching 80%.
Billy was orphaned by the age of 12 and sent to boarding schools. He graduated from high school at Haskell Indian School. Billy became involved in distance running and earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Kansas. Never winning a major race in track and field or cross country, he continued to show promise by his performances, making All-American seven times. Upon graduation from the University of Kansas, Billy was commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps and continued training for the Olympic Team. He made the Olympic team in two events, the marathon and the 10,000 meter run. He had trained his body, mind and soul for "Peak Performance" and the world was about to see the greatest upset in Olympic history unfold.
Today Billy is an accomplished businessman, author, and National Spokesperson for Christian Relief Services. As National Spokesperson, he has helped raise over 500 million dollars in cash and in-kind for charities worldwide. He has received five honorary doctorates and is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Citation, the highest honor that the University of Kansas Alumni Association can bestow upon an individual to acknowledge outstanding achievement for the betterment of mankind. A major motion picture has been made about Billy, entitled "Running Brave," which has been a positive influence on many of our American youth. Billy Mills was recognized on several end-of-the millennium lists, including being chosen as Sports Illustrated's Athlete of the Century for the state of South Dakota. In 2013 Billy won the second highest honor that is awarded to a civilian - the Presidential Citizen's Medal from President Obama. On January 17, 2014 the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) presented Billy the highest award they give to an individual: The Teddy Roosevelt Award.