In 18th-century Louisiana, escapee African slaves would make a break for the bayous. Here they might encounter Native Americans and occasionally find asylum with them: two peoples who had in common a struggle for freedom from oppression.
That this episode in history is remembered is in part thanks to the Black Masking Indians of New Orleans, who are best known for their unmissable presence at the city’s Mardi Gras celebrations. Lavishly dressed in intricately beaded suits, the Black Masking Indians are a unique synthesis of African and Native American cultures and a celebration of the universal struggle to express our identity.
In this final episode of Season Three of The Rough Guide to Everywhere, host Neil McQuillian speaks to Cherice Harrison-Nelson, founder of the Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame.
Thanks to Cherice Harrison-Nelson for telling us her story; to Owen Wagner for recording Cherice’s side of our interview in New Orleans; to Ken Eng for all the wonderful music and sounds of Black Masking Indians in New Orleans; and to our producers Jessie Lawson and Alannah Chance of Reduced Listening.
Subscribe to The Rough Guide to Everywhere now (iTunes; Soundcloud) to catch up on the rest of Series Three. Get in touch with us on Twitter using #roughguidespod, and please do rate us on Apple Podcasts.
Top image: © amadeustx / Shutterstock. Podcast image: © Ken Eng