Mills hammered on the topic of leading one’s life on values of “responsibility along with accountability” to bring honor, character, beauty and dignity to life. He also spoke heavily about “giving back to your community” which is a basic Native American concept for most tribes that is practiced even in today’s contemporary world.
Mills reminded each student of this kind of Native American practice of generosity, that once a person has achieved a certain level of personal success, he or she must then give back in appreciation for being so blessed, whether it is monetary or in selfless works for the community’s benefit.
He encouraged each student to move past anger, jealousy, hurt, pain and self-pity and “remember that you have been given a life and your gift back is what you will do with that life.”
Mills reiterated that the pursuit of these goals throughout life is what will eventually heal and move a person toward lifelong happiness and success.
Mills recently received the University of Kansas Distinguished Alumni Service Award, given to graduates who have contributed exemplary service to the field of education or humanity. Mills is the first American Indian recipient of this award.
Although Mills is retired from professional running, he is the national spokesperson for Running Strong for American Indians, a nationally recognized nonprofit organization with the mission of strengthening American Indian community by creating opportunities for self-sufficiency and self-esteem.
Tuba City High school Counselor, Lucy Hatathlie-Nez partnered with Michelle Archuleta of Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation to bring Mills to Tuba City to highlight the community and school district’s approach to an alcohol and drug free lifestyle for its students and community members.
Once Archuleta was able to confirm Mills’ schedule, Hatathlie-Nez worked on securing a facility and format for Mills to be able to present to, not just TC District students, but all interested students in the area as well as parents and community members in an evening presentation.
(Rosanda Suetopka Thayer is Public Relations Director of Tuba City Unified School District.)