On December 4, Billy Mills reached the water protectors’ camps at Standing Rock. He travelled there with fellow former Olympian, hockey great Henry Boucha (Ojibwe), to voice support for the water protectors.
Mills and Boucha arrived at Standing Rock shortly after the Army Corps on Engineers announced that they would not grant the easement for Energy Transfer Partners (the group behind the Dakota Access Pipeline) to drill under Lake Oahe, stopping construction.
Mills spoke to the water protectors at camp:
“The world is watching,” he said, according to NY Daily News. “Standing Rock’s victory is not just a victory of Native Americans, it is a victory for America. It is a global victory. People have come and standing with us from India, from Asia, from Europe. People on Facebook are texting back and forth. We have unity through diversity.
I have not seen anything like it in sport. I have never felt anything more sacred than what I feel.”
Mills then went on to talk about the importance of water to Native people, and how it became a major part of Running Strong’s work, according to the NY Daily News.
He talked about starting Running Strong, and asking tribes what their number one priority was. They said clean drinking water. This inspired Mills to start the Running Strong clean water program, which continues today.