Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

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Introduction

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pp. xiii-xv

“I have a story . . .” When Pueblo friends and family gather, these words quiet the room. Storytelling has always been an important tradition in our culture. Storytellers preserve our history and pass knowledge from one generation to the next. I still remember visits to my dad’s...

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1. Those Who Came before Me

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pp. 1-13

I am an American Indian descended from the Puebloan peoples of the Southwest. My mother belonged to the San Juan Pueblo and my father belonged to the Laguna Pueblo. Because an American Indian can be a member of only one tribe, Daddy enrolled all three of his children in...

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2. Those Who Paved My Way

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pp. 14-26

All through my life, when I spoke to my father and mother I called them by the most endearing terms I know: Mama and Daddy. These people, so very dear to me, were intelligent, wise, and strong. Unfortunately, neither of them had the opportunity to reach their full potential in mainstream American society. ...

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3. Campus Brats, Cousins, and the Lessons of Life

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pp. 27-43

While I was growing up my family lived in government housing on the Santa Fe Indian School campus where my parents worked. My mother’s oldest brother, Leandro, was the auto mechanic and bus driver at the school. Consequently I had an uncle, an aunt, and five cousins living just two doors away. ...

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4. Formal Education, Hard Knocks, and Rewards

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pp. 44-60

With a January birthday I would have entered first grade in the fall of 1937, preceding my seventh birthday. In the fall of 1936, however, many of my friends were going to school, catching the bus and riding into Santa Fe every day. I wanted so badly to join them that I begged Daddy...

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5. Creighton Years

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pp. 61-78

Many years before my high school graduation and the Elks banquet, my parents had vowed that their children would go to college. They acted on faith that there would be a way for me to achieve a college degree and began making definite plans for my education during my junior year of high school. ...

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6. Finally: Doctor Blue Spruce

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pp. 79-90

I was extremely pleased that Mama and Daddy received the recognition they deserved as I received my doctorate of dental surgery. That a child of theirs would receive such a degree had been their dream almost since the day they married. ...

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7. Lieutenant Blue Spruce, USN

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pp. 91-106

As soon as I reported for duty at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center I was issued a Navy officer’s uniform with lieutenant insignias: two yellow stripes for my sleeves plus two silver bars for my collar. I was very proud of my handsome uniform and the caduceus with a d identifying...

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8. Indian Health Service Dentist

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pp. 107-121

About the time I accepted the Taos assignment in 1958 many life-changing events were taking place around me. A devastating change occurred in my personal life preceding my move to Taos. My wife and I separated. Barbara did not share my desire to provide dental care to...

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9. From the Wilds of Montana to New York City

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pp. 122-134

I felt honored that my supervisors in Washington DC wanted to place me in a supervisory position and welcomed the opportunity to test my leadership ability and administrative skills in my profession. And I wholeheartedly looked forward to experiencing life in Riverside, California, with the opportunity...

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10. Merchant Marines [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 135-148

Before accepting Dr. Canby’s offer I visited the Merchant Marine Academy to acquaint myself with its facilities and staff. I was pleased to find a beautiful clinic, associated with a beautiful hospital. In addition I was favorably impressed with the superintendent of the Academy, an admiral...

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11. Back to School

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pp. 149-162

I had taken my time in making my decision, but the thought of returning to school ten years after graduating from dental school filled me with apprehension. And I had strong arguments to support my concern. I was not eager to return to a rigorous study regimen or face the pressure...

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12. Off to South America

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pp. 163-175

In June 1968 I packed my bags, loaded up my 1968 Volkswagen, and headed east, destination: Washington DC, where I would begin my South American adventure as a consultant to the Pan American Health Organization. My duties in South America would be twofold: I would extend the...

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13. Back in the States

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pp. 176-187

After two years of being constantly on the move I was disappointed to find that with my assignment back in Washington in January 1970 I had little to do and nowhere to go. In the midst of the federal bureaucracy higher-ups generally agreed that I should be allowed to pursue...

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14. Special Assistant, Bureau of Health Manpower Education

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pp. 188-202

In April 1971, as I stood before that Duke University symposium audience ready to deliver the speech I had prepared, I realized that the American Indian students I wanted to address were not there. Nonetheless I spoke with fervor and enthusiasm as I told the predominantly black...

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15. Career Change: The “Money Man”

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pp. 203-218

“Dr. George blue spruce. Paging Dr. Blue Spruce,” the airport intercom blared, and my heart began to pound as a number of emergency possibilities raced through my mind. I had given my staff specific instructions: “Do not contact me while I am traveling except on matters of the utmost urgency.” ...

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16. King of the Hill

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pp. 219-231

From 1974 to 1976, while I was director of the Office of Native American Programs, I attended many meetings with other directors in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). As I became familiar with the agency’s departments I realized that many of these other programs...

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17. Finally: Director of the Program Closest to My Heart

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pp. 232-244

A few months after Congress passed the Indian Health Care Improvement Act in 1976 (implemented in 1977) I met Dr. Johnson for lunch. When he asked me if I would consider leaving my king-of-the-hill job to become the first director of the Indian Health Service Scholarship Program...

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18. Assistant Surgeon General

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pp. 245-263

I became an assistant surgeon general four months after I became the director of the Indian Health Service for the Phoenix Area in January 1979. I was the first American Indian dentist to become an area director, and I was about to embark on the zenith of my career. I would remain in this position...

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19. Come, Follow Me

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pp. 264-279

From the time I decided to become a dentist, I wanted to work among my Pueblo people to improve the dental care available to American Indians. In my younger days I thought I could best do this as a clinician, working on a reservation. Then, when opportunity created a twist in my...

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20. To Those Who Hold Our Future

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pp. 280-285

About the time i reached my seventieth birthday the Ohkay Owingeh tribal leader and several council members met with me informally and designated me a senior elder of the pueblo. In designating an elder the tribal leaders consider the wisdom the person has gained through life...

Index [Includes list of other works in this series]

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pp. 287-294