Red Lodge began as a group of committed Native American Religious Services volunteers advocating for and providing authentic Native American cultural programming and ceremony within Oregon State prisons. The volunteers witnessed positive change as people embraced traditional teachings and cultural practices. Spiritual healing and self-actualization began to take shape through active participation during special events and scheduled programming. In 2006 a Native American Task Force was formed to address mass incarceration among Native American people. Volunteers witnessed firsthand the revolving door known as recidivism as they watched women and men who hoped for a better future, release back to the same environment that got in into trouble in the first place. The Task Force held several meetings throughout Native communities to ask formerly incarcerated individuals and their families what barriers they had experienced upon re-entry. They heard stories of homelessness, lack of resources, little or no family/community support, substance abuse, lack of safe, clean and sober housing and scarce employment opportunities. They realized that for these individuals to succeed, support and resources during re-entry back into community was critical.
Later in 2006, Red Lodge Transition Services formed as a non-profit organization whose mission is to prevent and reduce incarceration and recidivism among Native American people.
As they re-build their lives, support for these men and women usually requires two or three transition phases. For most people, it requires a commitment of clean and sober living. The first 72 hours is known to be the most critical. Task Force members asked themselves, “Where do we start?” After much discussion, it was agreed that they would start with our women.
Red Lodge serves approximately 1,200 people per year in 11 Oregon State prisons and one jail with cultural programming and Native American Religious Services. Our programs aid in prevention, responsibility, respect and empowerment of individuals, families and communities. Approximately 80% of our re-entry clients are women and 20% are men. Red Lodge’s work in the prisons often helps Native Americans reconnect to Native spirituality and culture. We are a community-driven organization with almost 100 volunteers throughout the state of Oregon. Our volunteers are the heartbeat of Red Lodge.