Discover new sources and individuals to follow to stay informed about Indigenous culture in New Orleans, the Gulf South, and beyond.Bulbancha Today
Many individuals and systems of oppression in New Orleans (and throughout Louisiana) serve to deny the existence of Indigenous people in the region, and to ignore their successes, challenges, and needs. This oppression takes place in everything from the way that Native issues and struggles have been glossed over in New Orleans Tricentennial propaganda
, to the various micro aggressions and willful ignorance of many that dismisses and erases the experiences of Indigenous people. Representation Matters
Can you recall the last time a local news organization in New Orleans covered Indigenous communities in the area (without it being the same performance/history based format
)? Neither can we. For example, the Perspectives of Indigenous Women was a panel
held on April 30, 2018, at Loyola University
in the St. Charles Room of the Danna Center. The event included five Native women (their writing is featured in the zine
) who discussed a variety of the issues within Indigenous communities and women of Southeast Louisiana. Not a single local news organization in New Orleans covered this event. Additionally, on May 25, 2018, the New Orleans Jazz Museum hosted a a panel discussion of Native cultural traditions in New Orleans
, including personal experiences, family histories, and social practices, as well as responses to Native experiences, including the cultural system of the Mardi Gras Indians. Local media did not cover this event. We could go on with more examples over the last 10+ years, but these two suffice to make our point:
If you were to go solely by local news coverage, you might believe that Indigenous people don't exist in New Orleans. Representation matters
. There is something very wrong with the fact that Indigenous lives in New Orleans are treated as an afterthought by city government and the local media. There is something very wrong with looking at Native culture as something of the past, but not of the present. This erasure perpetuates systems of oppression. We've seen this before throughout history, all over the world. And it is happening right now, in New Orleans.
In Bulbancha, Native people are active in their communities and have value. In New Orleans, it is still up for debate whether this city cares about the Indigenous population. We challenge those who read Bulbancha Is Still A Place
to consider shifting their thinking about what it means to live in New Orleans and to support New Orleans, and what it means to show solidarity with Indigenous communities in New Orleans/Bulbancha and beyond (order now
). Bulbancha is still - and always will be - a place.About Indigenous People In New Orleans
According to the U.S. Census
, the "American Indian" and Alaska Native population consists of 6.7 million people, including those of more than one race. They made up about 2.0 percent of the total population in 2016. There are 21 states with 100,000 or more "American Indian" and Alaska Native residents, alone or in combination (as of 2016). In New Orleans, approximately 2,700 people identify as having "American Indian"/Alaska Native background, comprising 0.7% of the city’s population. In Louisiana as a whole, the percentage is slightly higher, at 1.3%. The original inhabitants of the land that New Orleans sits on were the Chitimacha, with the Atakapa, Caddo, Choctaw, Houma, Natchez, and Tunica inhabiting other areas throughout what is now Louisiana.
Learn more about the four federally-recognized tribes in Louisiana: the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana
, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana
, the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians
, and the Tunica-Biloxi Indian Tribe of Louisiana
. The Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana is the only Louisiana tribe to still live on a section of their original homeland, with a reservation located near the town of Charenton, approximately two hours from New Orleans.
State-recognized tribes of Louisiana include the Adai Caddo Tribe
, the Biloxi-Chitimacha Confederation of Muskogee
, Choctaw-Apache Community of Ebarb
, Clifton Choctaw, Four Winds Tribe Louisiana Cherokee Confederacy
, Grand Caillou/Dulac Band
, Isle de Jean Charles Band
, Louisiana Choctaw Tribe, Pointe-Au-Chien Indian Tribe
, and the United Houma Nation
.Mardi Gras Indians
It is important to note a nuanced aspect of New Orleans culture: Mardi Gras Indians
. These communities are comprised of Black / Creole / Native members who participate in performances and parades during the Carnival season and throughout the year. According to oral history, this tradition began in the eighteenth century and has several possible origins. Historically, local Indigenous tribes hid runaway enslaved Black folks, and some people view Mardi Gras Indians as honoring the history of the two cultures. Others point to the collective racism and violence that both Black and Indigenous communities in the area faced as a shared experience.