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BLACK INDIANS FROM NEW ORLEANS

BLACK INDIANS FROM NEW ORLEANS

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION

“If you go to New Orleans, you ought to go see the Mardi Gras” sings Professor Longhair in his signature song, Mardi Gras in New Orleans (1949). For if there is one event that embodies the identity of New Orleans, it is its carnival, with its floats and bands. Alongside these festivities, inherited from the French colonial era, a long overlooked tradition has continued for more than 150 years: the spectacular parades of Black Indians, with their magnificent costumes decorated with beads, sequins and feathers.

These parades – become mainstream thanks to David Simon's series Treme (HBO) – are a powerful social and cultural marker for African Americans in Louisiana. Led by the drums and songs of the Big Chiefs and Queens from some forty "tribes", they celebrate the memory of two oppressed peoples. They bear witness to the black community’s resistance to the prohibitions of racial segregation and to the Mardi Gras festivities from which it was once largely excluded, while paying tribute to the Amerindian communities that took in runaway slaves in the bayous.

Via a geographical and chronological journey featuring interviews, contemporary costumes and traditional works, the exhibition reveals a singular culture, built by more than three centuries of resistance against the assault of social and racial domination, still present today.

This exhibition is organized by the Quai Branly -Jacques Chirac Museum  with the invaluable support of the of the Louisiana State Museum.

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