Illustrated by S.D. Nelson

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

July 2024 Release!

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.

📰 Media Requests

  • Hannah Klein — Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette) —
  • Erin Murphy Literary Agency —
  • Donna Janell Bowman —

✍️ Autographed Books

🎤 Available for Speaking

  • Billy and Donna are booking school visits, conference sessions, and keynotes now. Available together or individually. Contact Donna or Contact Billy

🗓️ Coming soon:

  • Recorded Q&A between Donna and Billy Mills while Billy is at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris (tentative)
  • September 2024 — South Dakota Festival of Books presentations by Donna, Billy Mills, and SD Nelson
  • November 2024 — National Council of Teachers of English – Donna (2 panels), SD (1 panel)
  • Billy Mills schedule not show

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

See Sidebar for More

Reviews and Praise

Photo Gallery:

July 2024. Billy Mills and SD Nelson Zooming in for the Austin launch celebration.

Austin book launch celebration for WINGS

Editor Andrea Spooner and Donna (rain-soaked)

Billy in his ribbon shirt

Donna, Pat Mills, Billy Mills

Billy on the Haskell Institute cross country team

More about Billy Mills



Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection

WINGS OF AN EAGLE has been selected as the 2024 Library of Congress Center of the Book Great Reads selection for South Dakota and will be at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.


 STARRED review by Publishers Weekly: Excerpt: “Recollecting text captures  the feel of the times, the excitement of racing, and the courage behind reaching a long-cherished dream.” …a title that’s just right for anyone pursuing a lofty goal.”

Kirkus review: Excerpt: “A strong, stirring tale of perseverance.”

Booklist review: Excerpt: “…a powerful depiction of Native experiences in the twentieth century.”

Book Riot names WINGS one of the 10 best new children’s books out in July



  • For bulk orders of WINGS OF AN EAGLE: email

New! Bibliography (incomplete) of sources accessed during the research for WINGS.

New! Teaching Tips for WINGS OF AN EAGLE

Debbie Reese article for NCTE: Critical Indigenous Literacies: Selecting and Using Children’s Books about Indigenous Peoples

Native American Heritage Month resources

National Indian Education Association

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

National Council of American Indians

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 (in progress)

Lee and Low Books (multicultural publisher)

Social Justice Books

American Indians in Children’s Literature

S.D. Nelson

American Indian Library Association Youth Literature Award

We Need Diverse Books