|New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Bury the Hatchet is a documentary film about the culture and traditions of the Mardi Gras Indians. It features three Big Chiefs; Victor Harris, Alfred Doucette and Monk Boudreaux. Each one of them explain the ways of the Mardi Gras Indians they provide an in-depth perspective on the history and traditions of their culture.
This film resonated with me on so many levels because the men who are known as The Big Chiefs carry themselves in a manner of man that I grew up with during my childhood. Men who are capable of providing for their families, men who had skills and used them to create useful objects as well objects of beauty and men who know the importance and worth of keeping traditions and culture going strong within their families and the community.
This is a visual feast of a film. The three Big Chiefs are master artisans who create beautiful suits to lead their respective Indian gangs during Mardi Gras. Each one of them constructs their suits and the work is done by hand and also by machine. The final results of their work are a wearable piece of art.
As I watched this film it occurred to me that this group of men used their skills to tell stories that narrated on the garments that they produce. The amount of detail work that goes into each piece is no less than amazing. We should consider their work in the same manner that we do for Black women who quilt.
One of the major positive points in Bury the Hatchet is how the Big Chiefs recognized the need to change the course of Mardi Gras Indian tradition from its violent end of the day clashes into a tradition of beauty and dignity. At one time the Mari Gras Indians would end the day in actual physical combat. The film’s title comes from an incident where one of the Big Chiefs had a major altercation with another one. A hatchet was used to end that dispute and not only was the Big Chief struck in the head, his sister and another individual were injured.
Another strong point of this film is how the men resolve conflicts among the different Indian gangs. They believe in respecting each other and acting like they have a common bond even though they have differences.
One of the other Big Chiefs who is featured in this film is Big Chief Toots Montgomery. All of the other Big Chiefs pay homage to him and the role he had within the Mardi Gras Indian tradition.
This film was shot before and after Katrina hit New Orleans. Film maker Aaron Walker managed to keep track of where the three Big Chiefs relocated and subsequent return home. Their resilience and determination is motivates them to move on rebuilding their lives and keeping the tradition of the Mardi Gras Indians alive.
Bury the Hatchet is currently airing on the Documentary Channel. Please check your local listings if you are interested in viewing this film.