Health & Wellness

2022 Intertribal Opioid Wellness Summit Scheduled in Vernal

Attendees pick up badges at the 2019 Intertribal Opioid Summit in Price. (USU/Dennis Hinkamp photo)

A Utah State University Extension program is bringing a community-focused opioid wellness summit to northeastern Utah.

The Intertribal Opioid Wellness Summit will take place in Vernal on June 22-24, with pre-conference events for first responders on June 21. The summit will provide families and individuals who are affected by the opioid epidemic an opportunity to gather, share resources, and learn from leading opioid use disorder professionals.

“The Tribal and Rural Opioid Initiative Resource Center is excited to host the 5th annual Opioid Wellness Summit in Vernal,” said Cris Meier, project director of the Tribal and Rural Opioid Initiative at USU Extension. “The summit provides tribal and rural community members and health and wellbeing professionals with inspiring sessions that emphasize the Medicine Wheel, holistic health, and harm reduction, all of which can reduce stigmas associated with drug use.”

TROI was launched in 2018 by Extension to provide effective resources to address opioid and other substance misuse among rural and Native American community members. The goal of the initiative is to help combat the effects of opioids through prevention, recovery and treatment with a primary focus on stigma and harm-reduction education.

Summit organizer Valentina Sireech, TROI Resource Center program coordinator, explained the significance of the summit conference theme.

“Our theme, ‘Nuh-Nuh-Muh (Together): Reconnecting & Healing,’ reflects our commitment to sharing ideas, strategies, and best practices to address the opioid epidemic,” she said. “I hope this summit will ignite our sacred duty to lead the way for recovery and to heal our communities together.”

Speakers for the 2022 Intertribal Opioid Wellness Summit include Indigenous experts on healing and recovery. Lissa YellowBird-Chase of Mandan, Hidatsu, and Arikara nations, will provide the keynote address. YellowBird-Chase is the founder of the Sahnish Scouts, a volunteer organization that advocates for justice and searches for missing Indigenous persons. General sessions feature Indigenous experts and spiritual leaders.

The summit will also feature a public Health and Wellness Expo that spotlights local substance use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery organizations. On June 23, attendees will have an opportunity to connect through local food truck dining and a TROI Social Powwow with artisan and holistic health booths. The summit will wrap up on Friday, June 24, with a local recovery and treatment provider panel, an Addicts to Athletes rally, and closing remarks from USU Extension Vice President Ken White.

Registration for the summit opens on April 1. Visit for more details and to register.

For information about summit participation and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Sireech at (435)722-1200 or

As a land-grant institution, Utah State University campuses and centers reside and operate on the territories of the eight tribes of Utah, who have been living, working, and residing on this land from time immemorial. These tribes are the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Indians, Navajo Nation, Ute Indian Tribe, Northwestern Band of Shoshone, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, San Juan Southern Paiute, Skull Valley Band of Goshute, and White Mesa Band of the Ute Mountain Ute. We acknowledge these lands carry the stories of these Nations and their struggles for survival and identity. We recognize Elders past and present as peoples who have cared for, and continue to care for, the land. In offering this land acknowledgment, we affirm Indigenous self-governance history, experiences, and resiliency of the Native people who are still here today.


Cris Meier
Assistant Professor
Sociology, Social Work & Anthropology Department

Valentina Sireech
Tribal Opioid Resource Center Program Coordinator
USU Extension

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