We are saddened to report that Cyril Green, a/k/a Big Chief Iron Horse of the Black Seminoles and a respected figure in the Mardi Gras Indian community, died unexpectedly of natural causes on Wednesday, March 20. Earlier that evening he had celebrated St. Joseph’s Day with his fellow Big Chiefs.
Green was involved with other Indian tribes, beginning as Second Chief of the Flaming Arrows in 1992. He then held the same title with the Young Cheyennes before forming his own tribe, the Black Seminoles. He was inducted into the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame in 2006 and received its highest honor, the Crystal Feather; he then served as Vice President of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Circle of Chiefs. He was also a computer scientist, holding an associate degree from Delgado Community College. He made regular visits to local schools and to the Jazz & Heritage Festival, where he was scheduled to appear again this year.
The name Iron Horse referred to the wheelchair that Green was confined to for much of his life. “He was determined that it wouldn’t get him down in any way. That shows the pure tenacity and brilliance of his spirit, and his devotion to the tradition,” said Cherice Harrison-Nelson, curator of the Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame. “He would come to schools every year and tell the kids to get an education, and not to sweat the small stuff.”
A tribute for Green is planned tomorrow, Tuesday, March 26 on WWOZ between 11:30am-12:30pm. His memorial service will happen after Easter and details are still pending. Donations to his burial fund can be made through the Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame.