Billy Mills endorses Obama

( – promoted by navajo)

Via Deoliver47 on Daily Kos, Native Times is reporting that Billy Mills, a Lakota Sioux Olympic gold medalist born and raised on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation came out today in support of Barack Obama — all the more notable because Mills is a Republican:

Mills, who won the 1964 Olympic gold in the 10,000-meter run in one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history, said that he was a lifelong Republican, but that he had been inspired by Obama’s track record of uniting Americans from all walks of life. He also noted Obama’s background as the son of a single, working mom and his youth in Hawaii and Indonesia as predictive of his ability to understand and work for people in underserved communities.

Mills rose to prominence at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo where he came in as a virtual unknown and stunned the world by surging forward from third place in the final lap to capture the gold medal. He has since been inducted into the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.

The 1983 film “Running Brave” starred Robby Benson as a young Mills.

Mills concluded his endorsement by saying, “Barack Obama is the right choice for Indian Country and all of South Dakota.”

Obama adopted into the Crow Nation

( – promoted by navajo)

Cross posted at Daily Kos.

Barack Obama was formally adopted into the Crow Nation today — and given the name “One Who Helps People Throughout the Land.”

I was shocked (although I shouldn’t have been) to learn that he is the first presidential candidate who has ever visited the reservation of the Crow Nation, located in the state of Montana.

In a speech given yesterday, he made strong promises to address historic and present wrongs, and promised to bring improvements in both health care and education to America’s reservations:

The visit was meaningful, said Darrin Old Coyote, a member of the tribe who wore an elaborate headdress. “To have us left out all these years, and then for him to come here, it shows respect, and it makes us optimistic,” Old Coyote said.

The visit also had political value for Obama. The members of the Crow Nation vote as “a close knit bloc,” Old Coyote said. “Now that Senator Obama is part of the family, that is where we will go.”

The Billings Gazette gave some specific details of how Obama intended to address U.S. relationships with the tribes, including his commitment to having a Native American policy advisor on staff and “to holding an annual summit to ensure tribal needs are met.”

Obama talked about understanding what it is like to be viewed as an outsider from mainstream society and to struggle financially.

“I want you to know that I will never forget you,” he said.

The United States government cannot undo wrongs against Indian peoples, he said

But they can elect a president committed to do what’s right for Native Americans.

“And since now I’m a member of the family you know I won’t break my promises to my brothers and sisters.”

I’ve read discussion here and there about native people’s interest in Obama, given that he is from Hawaii. Beyond the powerful symbolism of his candidacy, it seems he has both a genuine concern for marginalized people, and an unerring ability to convey that concern.

Those who argue that Obama isn’t a “real American” perhaps need a lesson in just who the “real Americans” are.