Course Description

Since Mother Leafy Anderson brought him to New Orleans with her Spiritualist Church in the early twentieth century, Black Hawk has played a central and symbolic role in the fight against oppression and discrimination among devotees. He is venerated as an ancestral spirit among the Mardi Gras Indians, New Orleans Voudouists, as well as rootworkers and conjure doctors. Native Americans consider him a hero, African Americans view him as defender and liberator, and European Americans admire him as the noble savage who despite defeat, fought the good fight. While most of what is written about Black Hawk has either been from a historical perspective or from the perspective of the Spiritualist Church, Black Hawk cannot be confined to a single context. It has become more than evident that he has been adopted by people from many different spiritual traditions as a powerful Indian Spirit to whom devotees believe they can turn to for help and guidance when needed. 

What makes the Black Hawk conjure tradition so unique in Louisiana is its blend of Native American and African American influences. The Indian influences in African American folk magic and medicine is the direct result of the close bonds forged between the populations in the throes of slavery. There are many historical and cultural parallels between African Americans and Native Americans. The most obvious parallel is that both groups experienced forced removal from their homelands and enslavement. When enslaved Africans were ripped from their Motherland Africa, they joined enslaved Indians upon their arrival in Louisiana, who had already suffered 300 years of colonization and genocide. Many times, Africans and Indians wound up with the same slave masters. It comes as no surprise that Africans and Native Americans banded together to escape, steal food, supplies, and weapons, and to exchange information related to healing and indigenous medicine. Both populations had medicine people responsible for the treatment of physical and spiritual conditions of their people. African slaves transferred their medical skills to home remedies based on their newfound knowledge of North American plants, roots, and herbs. As cultural exchange is seldom one-sided, Native Americans undoubtedly learned a few tricks from their African neighbors, as well.
 

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About this course

  • $225.00
  • Community Forum
  • Certificate of Completion
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