Mardi Gras Indians, also known as Black Masking Indians are an iconic part of New Orleans’ parade culture and have turned the biggest celebration into a day of rebellion.
What We Know:
- Black Masking Indians refers to Black men with a Native American ancestry who dress up in colorful beaded suits influenced by the Native American culture.
- They wear suits made of feathers, beads, and other materials as a way of recognizing and symbolizing the history of oppression and racism that indigenous and African people have experienced.
- Back in the 1800s, Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans were held in predominantly white communities. These celebrations often excluded the poorer people that lived in the city.
- “Mardi Gras is just the day that we use to rebel against what Mardi Gras has historically been: a day where Black people couldn’t enjoy Mardi Gras the same way other people enjoyed Mardi Gras,” said Gizmo, a Mardi Gras Indian.
- The Mardi Gras Indans are divided into “krewes” which are named after Native American tribes and have developed their own culture and traditions. Gizmo is a member of the Wild Tchoupitoulas, one of the several krewes of the Mardi Gras Indians who work together.
- Gizmo also invests his time in designing and sewing all of his suits but he does it for the joy of dressing up on Mardi Gras and celebrating a culture that was traditionally denied to Black people.
“That’s what I’m going to use Mardi Gras for, it’s my day to do something woke and Black every single year,” said Gizmo.