17th annual governor's
native American Summit
June 23, 2023

Connecting our communities: Reverence for our elders, our youth, ourselves, and each other.


The Annual Governor’s Native American Summit began in 2006 as a small gathering of Tribal leaders. Over the years, it has evolved into the only event in the state where State and Tribal leaders, community stakeholders, educators, and community members converge to learn more about the issues and concerns impacting Utah's American Indian population. We aim to empower our attendees with ideas and solutions to make positive changes in their communities.

When :
Friday, June 23, 2023

Utah Valley University, Sorenson Student Center
800 W. University Parkway, Orem, Utah 84058

Browse The Digital Program
This year’s Summit is built around our theme, Connecting Our Communities: Reverence for Our Elders, Our Youth, Ourselves, and Each Other. Connecting our communities begins with us. Understanding where you come from opens the door to learning from our elders, gaining inspiration from our teachings, and discovering solutions to improve ourselves and our communities. Understanding who we are allows us to discover hidden strengths and builds connections to family and community. We are excited to provide breakout sessions and a lunch keynote panel to explore further how we can connect our communities by strengthening our ties to culture, education, and family.

17th Annual Governor's Native American Summit
Utah Valley University, Sorensen Student Center
Friday, June 23, 2023 | Agenda

7:00 AM - Exhibitor/Vendor Setup
8:00 AM - Registration Opens
9:00 AM - Opening Plenary Session, Grand Ballroom

Welcome: Dustin Jansen, Director, Utah Division of Indian Affairs


Presentation of Colors: Utah Inter-Tribal Veterans Association & Students

Grand Entry, Honor Song, Flag Song - Eagle Rib

Welcome: Spencer J. Cox, Governor, State of Utah (recorded welcome)

UVU Welcome: TBD

Welcome: Utah Tribal Leaders

Gubernatorial Address: Deidre Henderson, Lieutenant Governor, State of Utah (recorded remarks)

Community Honoring: Harry James

Instructions & Adjournment: Dustin Jansen, Director, Utah Division of Indian Affaris

Breakout Session 1 | 11:00-12:00 PM

America at 250 - A Listening Session

Room: SC 206A

Presenters: Andrei Jacobs

In 2026, the United States will commemorate its 250th anniversary. The US Semiquincentennial Commission, established by US Congress, is charged with orchestrating the largest and most inclusive anniversary observance in our nation’s history. Your involvement in this commemoration is crucial, and we want to hear from you about how to engage with America’s past, understand its present, and envision our future together. At this listening session, a brief introduction will be made about the US Semiquincentennial Commission and its Tribal Partnerships efforts. You are then invited to share perspectives, recommendations, and otherwise engage in conversation around America's 250th anniversary.

Improving Native Economies, Healthcare, Educational Opportunities, and Connecting Families in Today's One-Stop-Shop: High-speed Internet

Room: SC 206B

Presenters: Rebecca Dilg; Teri Mumm; Coy Miller

It has never been a better time to connect with our communities, our elders, our youth, ourselves, and each other as the opportunities of technology are opening new doors. The availability of high-speed internet allows online education, training, employment, business development, quality healthcare, and social and family connections. It is possible to use this tool for good; to search and promote the histories of our ancestors while giving our children the ability to stay close to home while learning technical skills and increasing job opportunities. Learn how high-speed internet is no longer a luxury but is essential to allow everyone to participate fully in the modern world.

Centering Indigenous Reciprocity, Culture, Learning, & Engagement through Sustainability Programs

Room: SC 206C

Presenters: Samantha Eldridge; Tashina Barber

Native American populations have a long tradition in making relations with the natural world, fostering a culture of sustainability. This panel seeks to illuminate the work of Indigenous changemakers at the University of Utah who are taking the lead in indigenizing their campus, truly creating a place of belonging for Indigenous students, staff, faculty, and community through sustainability partnerships.

Hoop Dance: Making Connections Beyond a Performance

Room: SC 213A

Presenters: Brenda Beyal; Emily Soderborg

Hoop Dancers enthrall audiences with their skill and creativity, but once the dance is over, then what? Instead of stopping after the performance, help make connections by exploring math, science, English language arts, visual arts, drama, music, and dance in the classroom. Come experience lesson plans created with world champion Hoop dancers that allow participants to gain inspiration from the stories and teachings of the Hoop Dance while also learning respect for the parameters around sharing sacred aspects of cultural arts. Connect to indigenous wisdom while creating your own story.

How does the Utah Office for Victims of Crime serve crime victims in Utah?

Room: Regan Theater

Presenters: Dallas Fawson; Melanie Scarlet

This presentation will discuss the Utah Office for Victims of Crime programs and how they serve victims in Utah both directly and indirectly. Participants will also learn about victims' rights in Utah and the crime victim/witness complaint process.

Youth Track : What Do You Know About Utah Courts 
Room : SB 132
Justice John A. Pearce

The purpose of this presentation is to engage with youth and educate them on the Utah judicial branch and the courts system. This is an exciting opportunity to bring judicial concepts to life and help enhance students’ knowledge and understanding of the courts in a clear and concise way.

Lunch | 12:00-1:15 PM Grand Ballroom

Lunch Keynote panelists: Larry Cesspooch (Ute), Forrest Cuch (Ute), Rhonda "Honey" Duvall (Navajo), Carl Moore (Hopi/Chemehuevi), Damon Polk (San Carlos Apache/Quechan)

Breakout Session 2 | 1:30-2:30 PM

The Colorado River and Tribes: How to Engage

Room: SC 206A

Presenters: Cody Stewart, Paul Tsosie, Bart Leeflang

The Colorado River Authority of Utah will moderate a panel of experts and officials from the Colorado River Authority of Utah and state government to discuss both why and how tribes should engage with state and local governments on matters pertaining to the Colorado River.

Utah Education Network: Education is our Middle Name and Our Focus is the Same

Room: SC 206B

Presenter: Lisa Cohne

Come see our Uen.org/americanindian resource page full of lesson plans, ideas and links to resources created by and for the many Native voices of Utah.

Find current, culturally appropriate resources for teaching and learning about Utah’s indigenous communities, heroes and events, present and past.

Return to the Red Circle: Connecting Native Youth to their Culture

Room: 206C

Presenters: Damon Polk, CADC II; Lane Shepherd, M. ED, LCMHC; Breeanne Good Bear

In this interactive session, the Red Circle Lodge team will explore the importance of Native American culture in the healing process for Native youth who have experienced trauma. Our cultural practices are healthy expressions of who we are as native people. This helps teens to identify themselves in a positive light as they navigate through today's society. We will share how teens understand their culture and learn how to utilize cultural practices to cope and restore their sense of self, identity, and stay connected living and growing in the Red Circle.

How can volunteering and service help solve community issues?

Room: SC 213A

Presenters: Greg Bates, Cauê Da Matta

UServeUtah honors elders, youth and each other by helping volunteerism in the State of Utah be the best it can be. This session is focused on how service and volunteerism can help solve community issues. Join us to share the important issues and needs your community is facing. Help us explore how volunteerism can play a role in addressing/solving those issues.

Municipal Indigenous & Native American Relationships: A case study of Salt Lake City

Room: Regan Theater

Presenters: Ashley Cleveland, Meredith Benally

45-minute PowerPoint storytelling presentation and Q&A about the Mendenhall Administrations' efforts to build relationships with Indigenous & Native Americans. 

Youth Track : Braiding Identities to Build Community

Room: SB 138

Presenters: Samantha Eldridge; Tashina Barber

Native youth will engage in the Personal Identity Wheel to identify and reflect on intersecting identities and shared lived experiences from an Indigenous lens. Students will find common ground with their peers, learn more about one another, and build community that honors diverse lived experiences.

Breakout Session 3 | 2:45-3:45 PM

Foster Care Recruitment and Retention

Room: SC 206A 

Presenter: Stephanie Benally

Across tribal communities and states, there is a shortage of Native American foster homes. This session will focus on three areas: 1) restoring hope our Native children are connected to their culture through cultural resources, 2) strategies on recruitment and target recruitment (Utah ICWA Alert), and 3) foster home retention.

Pathways to the Legal Profession: How the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion is Building Pipelines to the Legal Profession

Room: 206B

Presenters: Clifford Parkinson and Kaitlyn Pieper

This session will highlight the efforts the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI) is making to build new pipelines into the legal profession in Utah. The session will be a conversation between UCLI Executive Director Kaitlyn Pieper and UCLI Community Outreach Coordinator Cliff Parkinson. UCLI was formed in 2017 by a group of Utah attorneys and judges. The organization's goal is to increase diversity and inclusion in the Utah legal community. Educational programming and outreach are one of the main ways this goal is accomplished. This presentation will discuss the programs available and how participants may get involved.

UEN Round Table

Room: 206C

Presenter: Lisa Cohne

UEN is hosting a roundtable discussion at the Gov.NAS to bring a variety of perspectives to a sequential season of recognition and engagement. This organized conversation seeks to develop input for building partnerships and activities across the state for a 3-month series of events for: Orange Shirt Day (September) - Indigenous Peoples Day (October), and Native American Heritage Month (November ).

Salt Lake City- Foothills Trails Planning with Indigenous & Native American Communities

Room: SC 213A

Presenters: Ashley Cleveland, Annaka Eagen, and Leah Jaramillo

A 45-minute PowerPoint storytelling presentation and Q&A about the Mendenhall Administrations' efforts to build relationships with Indigenous & Native American communities.

Youth Track : Dental Field! You are needed and you belong

Room: SB 246

Presenter: Philip Conte

You can have a career in Healthcare. You are smart enough, you are worthy and you belong. 1/2 of the Native American population lives in dental shortage areas and only 0.1% of all dentists in the US are Native. We can be the solution.

Breakout Session 4 | 4:00-5:00 PM

VA Pact Act Benefits and VA Medical Benefits for Veterans

Room: 206A

Presenters: Daniel Prorok and Coy Miller

The VA Outreach Coordinators will present on the new PACT ACT Benefits: how to file claims, enrollment in Veterans in health care, and other benefits.

Salt Lake City- Foothills Trails Planning with Indigenous & Native American Communities

Room: 206B

Presenters: Ashley Cleveland, Annaka Eagen, and Leah Jaramillo

A workshop with maps, stickers, introductions, and Q&A about how trails and open spaces are used in Salt Lake City.

Enduring Sovereignty: ICWA Supreme Court Summary

Room: SC 213A

Presenter: Aspen Jensen, JD; Paul Tsosie, JD; and Jamie Harvey

On June 15, 2023 the United States Supreme Court released their decision in the Haaland v. Brackeen. The result was a 7-2 majority opinion upholding and defending the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Join us as we discuss reasonings, highlights, and future meaning of this decision.

UEN film - Indian Rodeo

Room: Regan Theater

Presenter: Lisa Cohne

30 min. Film: Indian Rodeo: Voices from the INFR. Discussion followed by local Utah Film Producer Sahar Khadjenoury of this film Q&A about Native Film Production. Film premier prior to broadcast on UEN-TV.

Youth Track : Cultural & Scientific Significance of Plants

Room: SB 263

Presenter: Dr. Michael Rotter

Workshop on the cultural and scientific significance of plants in the Great Basin area.

Please keep checking our website for the latest information, or you can follow us @utahindianaffairs on Facebook and Instagram for the latest conference information.



The annual Governor’s Native American Summit is the only event of its kind in Utah, where state government, tribal leaders, community partners, educators, students, and community members converge to celebrate Native culture and find solutions to issues impacting Utah’s American Indian communities. As a sponsoring partner, your company/organization will have an opportunity to interact directly with Utah’s Native American community and the 500 expected attendees.

We invite you to be a contributing community partner for this year's Summit. For more information, please email [email protected].


The annual Governor's Native American Summit is the only event of its kind in Utah, where state government, tribal leaders, community partners, educators, students, and community members converge to celebrate Native culture and find solutions to issues impacting Utah's American Indian communities. As an exhibiting partner, your organization will have an opportunity to interact directly with Utah's Native American community and the 500 expected attendees.

If you would like learn more about vendor or exhibit opportunities, please email [email protected].