The Indians

NewOrleansIndianChiefThe tambourine and stomp and chant came up the block from around the corner like a distant heartbeat, getting louder and louder until the chief came around the corner. It being far after Mardi Gras, I certainly never expected to see a Mardi Gras Indian on this trip to New Orleans, let alone a Big Chief. Without his retinue, in daylight, he was ever more resplendent than I could have imagined, the strut and swagger and waft powerful and mythic, otherworldly posturing earthy-real humanity at the same time. The beginnings and traditions of the legendary Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans are shrouded in mystery like so many technicolor feathers (origin stories and pictures way more awesome than mine are to be found at The House of Dance and Feathers, an indian-curated museum to the art and majesty of these chiefs), but the one truth apparent to me as a visitor and outsider is that they are beautiful, powerful, and rare to see. This chief had come out to trumpet that the Indians would be masking that night, St. Joseph’s night. We just happened to be there at the right place, and not the wrong time, and after sun-down, the tribes met to march and encounter and shake their feathers and assert their might and be beautiful. Out of respect I didn’t want to use my flash to take pictures, so, that’s that:NewOrleansChiefBattleMardiGrasIndianIndianChiefNewOrleans

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