Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans

The Culture and History of the Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans

Indian Statue Outside Store on Magazine Street          photo by elizabeth gordon

It is not uncommon in the United States to see brightly colored statues of American Indians at old dime stores, antique shops and in tourists areas.  But Indians have a different meaning here in New Orleans-the idea of the Indian(click) has been interwoven into the culture of the city and the Mardi Gras Parade(click).  Now you may wonder, just how did that happen?  It is an interesting and rich tale.

American Indian Statue on Magazine Street
New Orleans
  photo by elizabeth gordon

Detail of statue        Photo by elizabeth gordon

Detail of statue                      photo by elizabeth gordon

Detail of statue                     photo by elizabeth gordon

During the time of slavery in the deep South, often if the conditions were horrible enough, slaves would take the risk to escape.  The American Indians (Choctaw) of the area would take them in and hide them. The African Americans never forgot this kindness.  Also if African Americans claimed some indian heritage they were treated differently.  At one point African Americans could not be a part of the Mardi Gras parade, but indians could.  So to be a part of the parade and to form their own Mardi Gras Krewes, they claimed to be indian and paid respect to their indian brothers who had protected them.  
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