Monday, July 18, 2011

I Will Be Buried in this Town Too

I'm slowly coming to realize that I have more commitment to New Orleans than I have ever had in any romantic relationship. Saturday morning on the way to Barataria Preserve in Lafitte (30 minutes south of New Orleans) My cousin, Georgia and I ran into the second line of the recent ancestor Big Chief Lionel Delpit. It was wonderful and full of life.

Many tribes from around the city came together to bury this young Big Chief who had been struggling with health issues for a quite a while. As his casket was put into the horse drawn hearse there was silence with fists and hats raised in the air for blocks down Franklin Ave. As the door closed and those that surrounded his body looked into the windows, the crowd began to chant Indian Red.  (notice the single black feather in the video being held during the chant). A regular heard song and chant around the city in different varieties, but was at its most meaningful in that moment. "Indian, Indian, Big Chief of the nation, wild wild creation, no, he don't bow down, down on the ground, oh I love to hear him call Indian Red . . ." When the horses began to pull away from the church, the Stooges Brass Band jumped into I'll Fly Away and the second line steppers began to celebrate. The moment of mourning silence quickly both expectantly and suddenly turned into one of the best celebrations I've been lucky enough to witness in this town. It simply showed the strength and the tenacity and the toughness of this town's people. I hope one day I can be a real  New Orleanian and all that that means. 

Turns out Georgia is not as big of a fan of brass bands as I am, though she did love all those Indian feathers passing in front of her. Thankfully she didn't bite any of the Indians! How terrible would that be!

I took a little over 100 snaps during that hour or so. Here are the uneddited photos.

I realized Saturday morning that I may never leave New Orleans again. Sure I'll take trips and visit new places, but I won't live anywhere else. This is my home now. And that feels mighty peaceful in this moment.


ps. This song gives a good idea of the funeral mentality here in the city. 

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