Red Lodge began as a group of committed Native American Religious Services volunteers advocating for, and providing, authentic Native American cultural and spiritual practices within a handful of Oregon State prisons. These volunteers recognize the valuable impact of traditional teachings and cultural practices within an institutional setting. Spiritual healing of individuals and self-actualization was evident through active Adult in Custody participation during special events and scheduled programming.

In 2006 a Native American Task Force was formed to address mass incarceration among Native American people. The Task Force was hosted by several Native American communities throughout the state. Volunteers provided testimony of the revolving door known as recidivism. It was heartbreaking to watch women and men release back to the same environment that got them in into trouble in the first place. Formerly incarcerated individuals and their families provided testimony of barriers they had experienced upon reentry. There were stories of homelessness, limited resources, lack of family and community support, peer pressure, substance use, barriers to safe, clean and sober housing and employment opportunities.

Task Force members asked themselves, “Where do we start?” After much discussion, it was agreed we would start with our women since women have fewer resources available to them than men. Red Lodge Transition Services was founded in 2006 and received 501(c)3 status in 2007. Red Lodge is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to prevent and reduce incarceration and recidivism among Native American people.

As people work to re-build their lives, there are usually two or three transition phases before an individual is fully independent and sustainable. For many people, the transition process requires a commitment to abstain from substance abuse and negative peer influence. The first 72 hours after releasing from jail, prison and treatment is known to be a critical benchmark in long term success.

Red Lodge serves approximately 1,500 Adults in Custody and community members, during annual cultural programming at 13 Oregon State prisons, through the Native American Religious Services program. Our programs aid in prevention, responsibility, respect and empowerment of individuals, families and communities. Approximately 80% of our active clients are women and 20% are men. Red Lodge helps Native Americans reconnect to traditional spiritual practices, values and culture. We are a community-driven organization with approximately 120 volunteers throughout the state of Oregon. Our volunteers are the heartbeat of Red Lodge.