Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Mardi Gras Indians, First African American Mardi Gras Krewe

You won't see them with the rest of the krewes and walking clubs during the Mardi Gras celebrations.That's because they don't hang out around Canal Street near the French Quarter or Uptown near St. Charles Avenue where all the other krewes parade. I admit, because I didn't know the schedule until late last year, I still haven't seen them perform myself. You may be able to see them at the Jazz and Heritage Festivals if you don't catch them on Mardi Gras Day, St. Joseph's Day or a Super Sunday. I'm referring to the Mardi Gras Indians, the oldest African American Mardi Gras Krewe.

The Mardi Gras Indians mask in the historically African American neighborhood of Treme in New Orleans and make stops at different local restaurants and taverns in the community. Since African Americans were not included in the earlier Mardi Gras parades, they created their own celebrations within their neighborhoods.

You can contact the Backstreet Cultural Museum in Treme for information on the schedule, which is where I found out a lot about the history. This amazing African American cultural tradition goes back to the early 1800's with the Creole Wild West shows. Native Americans were credited with assisting African Americans during slavery and this was a way to pay homage.

The costumes, called suits, are made of not only feathers but also intricate bead work. They take about a year to make and weigh at least 100 pounds. They also don't wear the same one twice. The downtown suits are made more of feathers indicative of Native American tribes and the uptown costumes are more reminiscent of West African beading traditions.

The amazing picture displayed on this post is of the Cheyenne Gang courtesy of http://mardigrasindians.blogspot.com, the photograher is Perry Braniff, Sr.

Check out the video below to see them in action!



*** Click here also for more information on the Mardi Gras Indians.

Thanks for visiting. There is so much more to the Mardi Gras Indian culture than what's covered on this post. If you'd like me to add more about information about this topic on the blog please let me know by posting your comments below.


Sondra Carpenter
The Mardi Gras Girl

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