By Ellen Braunstein
McMillan's father had a great respect and love for the American Indian culture. His son remembers his father's collection of Tonkawan Indian arrowheads that he found on the family farm in Central Texas. His dad also carved American Indian heads.
It is this childhood memory and a stay on a Montana Indian reservation in the 1990s that inspired McMillan's idea for a prizewinning manuscript for young students.
"The Young Healer," to be published in 2012, depicts a spiritual coming-of-age of an 11-year-old girl in New York City who, despite being named Feather, knew little of her Native American heritage.
In the book, Feather's grandfather, a traditional Lakota healer, pulls her out of class one snowy morning and takes her on a vision quest. In Native American culture, a vision quest is a turning point on the journey of life. Begun before puberty, the journey is to find oneself and an intended path. In the course of this spiritual awakening, Feather saves her brother's life and gives her mother a renewed connection to her heritage.