The fourth film in the series, Big Chief, looks at the Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans (recently featured in the HBO series Treme). These groups celebrate the traditions of African Americans and Native Americans in ways that are seen nowhere other than New Orleans.
In addition to a look at the historical underpinnings of the art and practice of “masking Indian,” the film follows one particular Chief and considers his attachment to “the tradition” and how this personal expression flows out of his perspectives on life and art.
Recently, I discovered footage from the first St. Joseph’s Night celebration after Katrina (footage that I thought had been lost). This footage will be a central part of the film’s second half, examining how these traditions have served people in recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina over the last twelve years.
You can contribute directly to this film project here.