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Mardi Gras Indians

The Mardi Gras Indians are African-American men, women and children in New Orleans who mask in suits inspired by Native American and African ceremonial dress. Documented in local news accounts as early as 1899, Mardi Gras Indian masking traditions commemorate the unions between Native Americans and enslaved black populations who sought refuge from the brutal system of chattel slavery. Mardi Gras Indians are best known for their beautiful, larger than life hand-sewn “Indian suits” comprised of beads, rhinestones and tall feather plumes. Mardi Gras Indian gangs feature several members that play significant roles in their masking performances on the city streets. These members include the Big Chief (leader of the group), Big Queen (female leader of the group), Flag Boy (carries the flag that represents the group), Spy Boy (leads the procession through the streets) and Wild Man (protects the procession with ritual displays of fierceness)…read more…

Read more about Mardi Gras Indian traditions in the Music Rising courses on this site:
MUSC 1900 New Orleans Music
ADST 3550 Black Music and Performance in New Orleans

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