By William Hermann
George Blue Spruce knows those obstacles firsthand and has spent a lifetime helping others overcome them.
Blue Spruce, the nation's first American Indian dentist, is an assistant dean at A.T. Still University in Mesa, where he is helping tribal members enter the world of medicine.
At 78, Blue Spruce has a long and distinguished resume. He founded the Society of American Indian Dentists and was assistant U.S. surgeon general from 1981 to 1986. He also wrote the original draft of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act in Title 1 of federal statutes.
Now "retired," he is pursuing what he calls his true life's work: traveling the nation to tell young American Indian men and women that the medical professions need them, and perhaps more importantly, that their people need them to be in the medical professions.