Hazel was born to Melba Woods on January 1, 1951 in Noatak, Alaska. In March 1951 or 1952, she was adopted by Johnnie and Martha Smith and traveled to Kiana by dog team. She spent the first five years of her life away from the village with her parents in designated spring and summer camps. During portions of the winter months, they traveled far and away by dog team in search of caribou and other game. Because Hazel needed to attend school, Johnnie and Martha settled down in Kiana where she spent the next nine years attending elementary school. She has one brother, Don and a sister, Lulu with Johnnie and Martha's family. Hazel was blessed with a large family consisting of eleven brothers and sisters from her biological father, Henry Bailey and seven brothers and sisters from her biological mother, Melba Woods Collins. She is proud to be the maternal granddaughter of Nellie Sheldon Woods and Jonas Ward and paternal granddaughter of Charlie and Grace Niglik Bailey, all of whom are from Noatak. She has one daughter, Cheryl and one son, Richard from her first marriage. With her second husband, she has four stepchildren. Hazel left Kiana at the age of 14 to attend high school. Her freshman year was spent at Mt. Edgecumbe in Sitka, sophomore year at Victory High School near Palmer, junior year at Lathrop High in Fairbanks, and graduated from Kailua High School in Kailua, Hawaii. She attended Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado for one semester and left for Kotzebue where her mother lived at the time. With her first husband, she attended Alaska Rural Training Corps with Noorvik as the field site with some study occurring on campus at the Alaska Pacific University and University of Alaska-Fairbanks. In 1981, Hazel left Kotzebue and moved to Barrow and spent the next nine years in the area. In 1990, she met her current husband and after five months in Barrow, moved to Anchorage. With her husband's job, she had the opportunity to move back to the area in 1994. Due to lack of adequate housing, Hazel took a job with the Native Village of Kiana and spent three years in Kotzebue. The opportunity arose to move back to Kiana in 1998 where she now resides.