|Lecture, film to profile New Orleans' Mardi Gras Indians|
|Monday, September 22, 2008|
Dr. Maurice Martinez will give an illustrated lecture on the Mardi Gras Indians – composed mainly of residents of New Orleans’ inner city – on Oct. 14 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
A professor of instructional technology, foundations and secondary education at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Martinez also will present a screening of his 1976 film documentary “The Black Indians of New Orleans.”
The free public program will begin at 4 p.m. in UNC’s George Watts Hill Alumni Center on Stadium Drive.
Though the Mardi Gras Indians have paraded in the festival for more than a century, their parade is perhaps the least recognized of the Mardi Gras traditions. Their ritual song, dance and costuming is thought to have begun as a way for African slaves brought to America to celebrate their heritage.
Some believe the group represents the genetic and cultural intermarriage of blacks and American Indians, but the association is debated. Some older Mardi Gras Indian chiefs claim runaway slaves were harbored by Native Americans, while others think the style of dress is more likely inspired by Wild West shows that visited New Orleans in the late 1800s.
Martinez will focus on the socio-cultural history of the black Mardi Gras Indians, their sacred beliefs and retentions from Yoruba and Indian traditions and their rituals, practices and lifestyles.
Martinez is a New Orleans-born poet, photographer, musician and filmmaker. A protégé of poet Langston Hughes, Martinez has written numerous articles about the Mardis Gras Indians.
Dr. Maurice Martinez’s Web site: doorknobfilms.com