The Mardi Gras You Don’t See….The Mardi Gras Indians.

One tradition in New Orleans clings onto to its ancestral strength of hard work, persistence pride, and the yearly renewal of respectfulness to its origins… that’s the pride of a Mardi Gras Indian. On Mardi Gras day, each year, “tribes” of black Indians, parade through their own neighborhoods singing and dancing to traditional chants, particularly unique to the Mardi Gras Indians.  This tradition, has but one root cause and meaning, “To honor the Indians that helped us in our struggle to reclaim our freedom.” 

Archives now record for the first time, some known successful cases of blacks escaping into the bayou.  It is said that tribes such as the Chickasaws,Seminoles and Choctaw of Louisiana were responsible for the freeing of Africans and men of color from slavery, by hiding them in the bayou and teaching them how to live off the land.

There is a lot of history that goes along with the Mardi Gras Indian that, I will probably post at a later date.   The youtube clips show a tribe from the uptown area just hitting the streets.  The other clip is of different suits from different tribes with music from the Wild Magnolias( one of the tribes) in the background.

There are about 38 known tribes that hit the streets on that day.  They meet and compete with a “showdown” as to who has the  prettiest suit.  Spyboy against Spyboy, Flagman against Flagman, Big Chief against BigChief  and the like.  Back in the day, they used to actually fight in the streets on Mardi Gras Day, but, thanks to the late, great Big Chief “Tootie” Montana it changed into a showdown.  His suits were hard to beat.  Often 100-200 pounds, he’d walk the streets  with the prettiest suit  in the city. All of the suits are magnificent and are always sewn by hand by the individual Indian along with some helpers, usually family members.  ENJOY!!!



7 thoughts on “The Mardi Gras You Don’t See….The Mardi Gras Indians.

  1. DAYUUUUUM BABY !!! YOU are becoming the unofficial historian of Black and Creole culture in New Orleans (or should I say Nouvelle Orleans?) Sharing our food, customs and culture with thos bruhs and sistas on this here internet…ROTFL !!! I love it !!! and YOU very very deeply!

  2. Makes me reminisce –I’m a native–so I know the flow and for the first time in eons–I will be present and accounted for at the 2009 Mardi Gras –on a truck float –no less…they tried to get me to the Zulu ball but my flight (cheap tickets) leaves on Lundi Gras…Should be interesting… “Throw Me Sumthin’ Mista”

    Nice Blog.

  3. @CyncereSister…Well, that is truly wonderful!!! You need to let me know that truck float number and if you are “neutral ground or sidewalk side” so, I can get those throws out ‘cha! By the time the trucks hit Gallier Hall, I’ll be out of those grandstand seats…I can’t sit there too long, I have to get where the action is…..Mardi Gras under the Bridge!

  4. @LB,…Awwww, don’t be homesick. I put it out there for all of the New Orleanians who aren’t home. I know how hard that is this time of year so, I’m putting it out there for ya’ll!

  5. I lived in N.O. for a couple of years, and I remember the first time I saw some Mardi Gras Indians dancing in the streets. I didn’t know WHAT to think.

    Good to get a little history behind it all. I hope to read more about it from a native!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s