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If you have ever heard the amazing Olympic Gold-Medalist  Billy Mills (Oglala Lakota) in lecture you will recall how he explained after his mother’s death when he was 8-years-old, his father told him “right now your wings are broken, but someday you will have the wings of an eagle.” 

Tragically, four years later his father died. But, the words of his father didn’t and he turned them into a dream to win an Olympic medal.

He did so 1964 in Tokyo when he won a Gold Medal for the 10,000-meter event. The first Native American to win in the category.

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The motivational words that propelled Mills to win the Gold Medal are the basis for Wing of an Eagle, a children’s book he co-authored with Donna Janell Bowman. The book was released on July 2, 2024 and is illustrated by S.D. Nelson, a tribal citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

"I want to inspire the dreams of our youth as they collectively, along with the dignity, character and beauty of their diversity, choreograph the horizon of America’s future. 'One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all,'" Mills said. :Through Wings of an Eagle, I want the young students in the classroom to know everybody’s dreams can be accomplished. This is possible through having a dream and by everyone having an understanding of the diversity in the classroom. We are stronger together. Our most powerful Lakota prayer is: 'We are all related.'”

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 citizen 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

To buy the book, go to Amazon.

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About The Author
Levi Rickert
Author: Levi RickertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Levi "Calm Before the Storm" Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected].