The Red Road: A Father’s Walk from Incarceration to Reentry


Monday, February 6, 2023
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Session Type: Workshop

How does a Native father reconcile his choices before during and after incarceration? What are the support systems necessary to prevent recidivism and failure? This workshop is an in depth view of the use of Native American traditions and ceremonies practiced during incarceration for successful reentry and family reunification. This workshop centers the lived experiences of two native fathers who have subsequently forayed into professional reentry specialists despite pitfalls, systemic and institutional barriers, racism and the COVID 19 pandemic. The participants will gain an understanding of traditional practices that support Native American emotional, mental, physical and spiritual wellness during reentry, and gain familiarity with Native American centered reentry resources.


Osceola Fortner
Case Manager, Native American Reentry Services

While incarcerated, he was reintroduced to the sweat lodge and developed a system of support that has strengthened his transition back to the community. Now he is in a position to help others as they come home and believes in helping those that are willing to help themselves. Osceola Fortner is an enrolled member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. He currently provides case management for Native American Reentry Service's HEAL for Reentry program. His role at NARS as a case manager is to ensure cultural as well as social/community services are made available to the HEAL for Reentry program participants. Osceola finds fulfillment in his current position supporting his community with reentry support, case management and healing. He is passionate about gaining as much knowledge and wisdom as he can, and to this end he is working towards obtaining an Associates of Arts and Science, leading to a Bachelor's degree with which he'll continue to support Indigenous communities. In addition to case management, Osceola incorporates Wellbriety into his reentry support as a certified Warrior Down Recovery Coach. Having experienced the Iron House first hand, Osceola’s journey towards Wellbriety began when he was chosen to lead Medicine Wheel & 12 Step classes for his fellow hoop members. He facilitates activities such as sweat lodge, Medicine Wheel & 12 Step, distributes traditional medicines, and other resources that support spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical healing and growth.

Winona Stevens
Executive Director, Native American Reentry Services

Leandru Willie
Program Manager, Native American Reentry Services

Leandru Willie is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and has recently transitioned from managing the Iron House Medicine program to managing the HEAL for Reentry program manager. In 2015, Leandru decided to further his education by attending Pierce College to obtain an Associates of Arts degree before transferring to the University of Washington Tacoma. Leandru is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree, majoring in Law & Policy with a minor in Human Rights. In addition to Leandru’s academic accomplishments, he became the first formerly incarcerated person to manage Washington DOC’s Native American religious program. The unique life experiences Leandru and others provide is a critical contribution to the work we do. After battling with drugs and alcohol for much of his life, Leandru now aims to inspire others to not let their criminal history dictate the rest of their lives.