Tracing their roots back to a time when American Indians helped shield runaway slaves, the Mardi Gras Indians are among the most colorful and mysterious of New Orleans’ cultural phenomena. Finding it difficult to participate in Mardi Gras “krewes,” early African Americans developed their own way of celebrating by organizing Mardi Gras Indian tribes as krewes. Today, Mardi Gras Indians shine at every opportunity by showcasing their spectacular hand-made costume, lovely song and contagious spirit. Watch them parade and perform at several events including Jazz Fest,
Many historians trace the genesis of the tradition to the days of French and Spanish rule, when slaves would gather at Congo Square in New Orleans’ Tremé neighborhood to play traditional African folk music and dance and sing to blow off steam and celebrate their heritage.