George Blue Spruce Jr., D.D.S., M.P.H., assistant dean for American Indian affairs at the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health, is the voice behind “Searching for My Destiny,” a recently published biography about his life as told to Deanne Durrett.
“Searching for My Destiny” tells the story of how Dr. Blue Spruce’s upbringing in the Laguna Pueblos (now known as Ohkay Owingeh) led him to become the first American Indian dentist.
“I was the first Indian with a dental degree, and I recruited the young man who became the second,” Dr. Blue Spruce said. “I haven’t stopped recruiting since then. Now we have about 145 American Indian dentists.”
There is approximately one American Indian dentist for every 32,000 American Indians, and Dr. Blue Spruce has been active in campaigning for a response to this deficit for the majority of his career.
After graduating from dental school, rather than following his original plan and going back to the reservation to practice dentistry, Dr. Blue Spruce followed a diverse career path that led from Montana to New York City, San Francisco to South America, and back.
Throughout his career, Dr. Blue Spruce has managed to successfully travel between his mainstream and traditional Pueblo cultures. He has served as director of the Phoenix Regional Indian Health Service and as United States assistant surgeon general.