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Can Indigenous And Non-Indigenous Groups Work Together? Debunked Live On Tuesday's Access Utah

Department of Kinesiology and Health Science at Utah State University

Today we present a live episode of the Debunked Podcast. Host Tom Williams and Debunked Podcast host Don Lyons welcome Mary Jo McMillen, Executive Director of USARA (Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness) and Ashanti Moritz, Outreach Director for the Skull Valley Band of Goshutes' Warrior Spirit Recovery Center to debunk the myth “indigenous and non-indigenous groups can't work together to solve social problems.”

This episode will discuss the misconception that cross-cultural groups are not interested in collaborating to solve common societal issues, and that culture is an impossible barrier to remove when it comes to improving community well-being. Our guests provide real-life examples of creating healthy communities based on empathy, desire for understanding and cultural sensitivity in all efforts.  

The Debunked Podcast was created by the Utah State University Office of Health Equity and Community Engagement and Tribal and Rural Opioid Initiative, which are housed within the USU Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services, Department of Kinesiology and Health Science and USU Extension. The program is made possible by SAMHSA, Utah Public Radio and community partners.

Mary Jo McMillen is a licensed Substance Use Disorder Counselor who has worked with people in treatment and recovery since 1987. Mary Jo has been in long-term recovery since 1985 and is passionate about empowering others to celebrate their own recovery. In 2007, she worked with colleagues and people in recovery to establish USARA as a non-profit advocacy organization. In 2010, Mary Jo became the Executive Director, and USARA became a statewide, peer-run Recovery Community Organization (RCO) that serves all communities and cultures throughout Utah.


Ashanti Moritz is originally from Neah Bay Washington, Tlingit from Kake, Alaska and Shuswap from Kamloops, BC. She is currently the Outreach Director for the Skull Valley Band of Goshutes' Warrior Spirit Recovery Center (WSRC) located in Tooele, Utah. WSRC is an outpatient and residential treatment program which specializes in helping individuals who are dealing with substance use issues. WSRC provides a balance of spiritual, mental, physical and emotional healing through Native American traditions and healing ceremonies. Ashanti is certified in Wellbriety, as well as Survivors of Homicide. She is an active member of the Salt Lake community, volunteer for Young People in Recovery, League of Women Voters and Utah Youth Initiative.


Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.