February 27, 2009
The Mississippi University for Women Honors Forum Series examines the tradition and pageantry of the Mardi Gras Indians when Dr. Annette Trefzer of the University of Mississippi presents "He Won''t Bow Down: The New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians." The presentation is Thursday, March 5, at 6 p.m. in Nissan Auditorium in Parkinson Hall on the campus of MUW. It is free and open to the public.
An important element of Carnival in New Orleans is the appearance of the Mardi Gras Indians, "tribes," each of about 20 black males, who dress as Plains Indians and parade in the streets of the city on Mardi Gras Day. This blending of cultural images has created a unique tradition whose origins are shrouded in mystery.
Professor Trefzer''s presentation will examine the historical origins of the Mardi Gras Indians and draw attention to the complex cultural relations among African Americans and Native Americans. She will begin her presentation by addressing the damage done by Hurricane Katrina to the neighborhoods where these cherished Carnival rituals were practiced for decades. The presentation will address the cultural survival of the Mardi Gras Indians, their historical roots and the Creolized aesthetics of their unique, dazzling and colorful costumes.
Trefzer is associate professor of English at the University of Mississippi. She teaches courses in American and Native American literature and literary theory. She is the author of "Disturbing Indians: The Archaeology of Southern Fiction" (2007) and co-editor, with Kathryn McKee, of a special issue of American Literature, "Global Contexts: Local Literatures: The New Southern Studies" (2006).
The Honors College Forum Series is made possible by an endowment from Ina E. Gordy for whom the Gordy Honors College is named.