Illustrated by S.D. Nelson

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publishing July 2, 2024

He faced poverty on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, was orphaned by the age of 12, developed a debilitating health condition, and struggled against extreme racism, but Billy Mills persevered against all odds by chasing a dream. In 1964, he became the first American to win Olympic Gold in the 10,000-meter event—the second Native American in history to win gold in any Track & Field event, after Jim Thorpe (1912). Billy knew then that it was time for his traditional Lakota Giveaway. He stepped off the winner’s podium and into a life of service, helping Indigenous people around the world.


Billy and Donna are booking school visits and keynotes now, together or separately.

 Contact Donna or Contact Billy

Coming soon:

  • Livestream with Billy Mills from the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris
  • More

About the book creators

Billy Mills is an Olympic gold medalist, author, and cofounder of Running Strong for American Indian Youth, a nonprofit organization that supports the critical needs of Native communities. A member of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Tribe, he grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation and now travels around the world inspiring audiences to embrace unity through diversity while learning from historical injustices. He lives near Sacramento, California.

Donna Janell Bowman is an award-winning author of books for young readers, including Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness and Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words. Donna holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. When not writing, she enjoys speaking at schools, coaching other writers, and learning from inspiring people. She lives near Austin, Texas.

S. D. Nelson, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in the Dakotas, is the author and illustrator of inspiring children’s books, such as Black Elk’s Vision and Grandma’s Tipi. Honors include an American Indian Library Association award and a Spur Award from Western Writers of America. He is a cofounder of Read at Home, encouraging early literacy among Indigenous children. He lives in Flagstaff, Arizona

Reviews and Praise

Photo Gallery

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Resources for educators, librarians, Native schools

Native American Heritage Month resources

Helping Tribal Libraries Connect Through the E-Rate Program (an article by the Federal Communications Commission)

Native American Library Services: Enhancements Grants (an article by the Institute of Museum and Library Services) *Grants of $10,000 – $150,000. Deadline: April 1, 2025. See the pre-recorded webinar on the site with tips and suggestions for applying for this grant.

Native American Library Services Basic Grants

Tribal Libraries E-Rate Pilot Program

Tribal Library Resources (American Indian Library Association)

American Indians in Children’s Literature – helping readers and gatekeepers understand who Native people are while shining a light on misrepresentation in children’s literature

Visit Cynthia Leitich Smith’s blog for excerpts from Doris Seale and Beverly Slapin with tips for how to encourage respect for Native peoples in the classroom

Native Knowledge 360° Education Initiative, by the National Museum of the American Indian

National Museum of the American Indian

Find more books by and/or about Native Americans

Lee and Low Books (multicultural publisher)

Social Justice Books

American Indians in Children’s Literature

S.D. Nelson