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!!!