Stream at Split Rock, Camp Oh-Neh-Tah

Dr. George Blue Spruce Jr


Scholarship honors first American Indian dentist
By Craig Palmer Prior Lake, Minn.
Posted June 20, 2007

The Society of American Indian Dentists announced corporate-tribal support for a new scholarship honoring Dr. George Blue Spruce Jr., the first American Indian dentist.
The scholarship initiated at the 17th annual SAID meeting June 7-10 will assist American Indian dental students at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and Sullivan-Schein, a Henry Schein Company, each contributed $10,000 toward "the largest endowed scholarship fund for American Indian dental students" setting a goal of $200,000. Dr. Blue Spruce, founder and president emeritus of the SAID, is a former assistant surgeon general in the U.S. Public Health Service. The only American Indian on campus, he was the first Pueblo American Indian to graduate from a dental school, Creighton University School of Dentistry, and became the first American Indian dentist in the United States. He is currently assistant dean for American Indian affairs at the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health. See also his paper on "The Need for American Indian Dentists" posted online.

Recognition: Dr. Christopher G. Halliday (right), chief dental officer, U.S. Public Health Service, presents a USPHS special commendation for Dr. Blue Spruce's contributions as a U.S. assistant surgeon general and director of the
Indian Health Service Phoenix Area Office. (Photos by Dr. Richard J. Simonsen)

Dr. Blue Spruce received many awards from the dental community including an ADA presidential citation presented by Dr. Robert Brandjord, the ADA's immediate past president, "for your leadership in the American Indian community and your long-standing commitment to promoting the dental health of American Indians." A University of Minnesota pre-dental student, Crystal McGraw, presented a special honor quilt to Dr. Blue Spruce on behalf of SAID members, and the Sisseton-Wahpeton Vietnam Veterans Honor Guard presented the colors at an honors ceremony. The Society of American Indian Dentists meets annually and usually in association with a dental school and American Indian tribes in the vicinity.

The society's membership as indicated at the Web site, , comprises approximately 65 American Indian dentists representing 41 tribes.

Dental community: From left, Tony Groen, Sullivan-Schein; Dr. Patrick Lloyd, dean, University of
Minnesota School of Dentistry; Nicki Cook, coordinator for admissions and diversity, UMSOD;
Dr. Mike Madden, interim assistant dean for admissions, UMSOD; Dr. Blue Spruce;
Dr. James Q. Swift, president, American Dental Education Association;
Dr. Bob Brandjord, past president, ADA; and Dr. Halliday.

The University of Minnesota School of Dentistry hosted this year's conference, New Trends in Dentistry, at the Mystic Lake resort and casino hotel near Minneapolis-St. Paul. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a federally recognized Indian tribe. Tribal members are direct lineal descendants of Mdewakanton Dakota people who lived in villages near the banks of the lower Minnesota River. Dr. Michael J. Madden, the dental school's interim assistant dean of admissions, headed local planning for the meeting. University of Minnesota and Indiana University dental faculty provided continuing education programs on caries risk and control, identification and diagnosis of oral lesions, "meth mouth," and CAD/CAM technologies for use in the dental office. Founder: Dr. Blue Spruce shows the honor quilt presented to him on behalf of members of SAID, the organization he founded and served as president. The school cited support for the conference from Procter & Gamble, Oral-B, Midmark, VOCO, A-dec, Sullivan-Schein, Zimmer Dental, Mystic Lake and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. "This coming year the SAID will make a concerted effort to increase membership in the organization of American Indian and Native Alaska dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants and other dental personnel interested in improving the oral health of all people and especially American Indian and Native Alaskan community members," said Dr. Madden. "The SAID will continue its efforts to recruit and enroll American Indian and Native Alaskan students in dental professional programs across the United States." The SAID will hold its 2008 meeting in Phoenix, Ariz., with the support of the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health in Mesa, which graduated its first class May 19, and Dr. Richard J. Simonsen, inaugural dean of the Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine in Glendale, Ariz. Dr. Nancy Reifel, UCLA, will coordinate a SAID mentoring program for American Indian and Native Alaskan dental professional students.

Founder: Dr. Blue Spruce shows the honor quilt presented to him on behalf of members of SAID,
the organization he founded and served as president.


June 20, 2007

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