Friday, September 23, 2005

Mardi Gras Indians vowing to come back

If the Indians don't come back, will it still be New Orleans?

I reported earlier that Aaron Neville isn't coming back. What if the neighborhood musicians, the people who haven't made it nationall, don't come back?

I also reported that a large number of neighborhood restaurants are gone. For many people in New Orleans, it's not about Galatoire's or Commanders. It's about Mthe neighborhood restaurants where they eat every week.

The New Orleans I grew up in was already vanishing like the land around it when I left in 1987. On my last visit home, for last year's Mardi Gras, I saw that the Famous Door is no a karaoke bar. Walking the length of Bourdon, I could not find a single club that offered New Orleans music: jazz or R&B or another else local.

The humanities groups (meagerly funded by the federal government) need to help these people. All of us in the diaspora need to find a way to help the Indians and the muscians and the artists return to New Orleans, or the rest will not be worth saving.

Some are working this. From the post below, read down for stories on artists and musicians dedicated to NOLA. In particular, please read the story about the Titipina's Foundation.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Big chief Al Morris has lost his tribe.

Hurricane Katrina dispersed his people — the spy boys, the wild men, the medicine men and priestesses that make up the Northside Skull and Bones Gang.

"Everybody's gone," the 66-year-old Morris said. But, he added with a twinkle in his eye, "by the time Mardi Gras comes around, everybody will pop up."

Despite the diaspora caused by Katrina, members from at least one tribe said they are sticking together and getting ready for Mardi Gras, which falls on Feb. 28 next year.

"We're in Houston — sewing," said Dr. Rashon, a high priestess with the FiYiYi tribe. "We won't bow out."

"That's a very important face of Mardi Gras," said Barry Kern, a prominent businessman whose family makes many of the Mardi Gras floats. "They will be here, maybe not living in their homes, but they will be here for Mardi Gras in some form or fashion."

But Morris fears that the devastation to neighborhoods will sap the life out of the tribes and the city.

"A lot of people won't be able to come back," he said. "Before long you won't even see a second-line (parade) on these streets."

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"And when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcome, but when we are silent we are still afraid. So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive." -- Audie Lorde

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