Mardi Gras Day

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In an interview with Alison Fensterstock, Little Queen Malon McGee, a Mardi Gras Indian said, “When I put on my suit, I feel like I'm so pretty, and I just want the whole world to see how pretty I look on Mardi Gras Day. It's like a feeling that just gets inside me and I'm ready to go out.” Mardi Gras is a very important event for many Mardi Gras Indians in New Orleans. As most New Orleanians know, African Americans dress up as Native Americans to pay respect to the Native Americans that helped slaves during slavery. Because of this, Native Americans are celebrated every year by African Americans. The Indians are dressed in vivid colorful feathers from head to toe. Although most of the traditions have remained the same, a few have changed. …show more content…
In Robert N. Brown’s photographic essay, “Don’t Bow Down on that Dirty Ground”, he writes about the history and the culture of the Mardi Gras Indians. He explains that it’s a possibility that “the cultural phenomenon of Mardi Gras Indians owe its origins, in part, to Buffalo Bill Cody’s ‘Wild West Show’ of the late nineteenth century” (Brown 105). During the nineteenth century, some of the filming for “Wild West Show” was in the New Orleans and many African Americans saw the Native Americans dressed in their costumes for the film (Brown 105). This may have inspired African Americans to mask as Native Americans for Mardi Gras. The influence of the Buffalo Bill Cody’s ‘Wild West Show’ and the relationship between African Americans and Native Americans are the most popular theories on why African Americans mask as Native Americans during Mardi …show more content…
According to Thompson, it takes almost an entire year to make a Mardi Gras Indian costumes. The costume making process starts from the Ash Wednesday to next year’s Mardi Gras (Thompson). Additionally, the costumes are made from various materials. The handsewn costumes are made with “ostrich plumes, sequins, brightly colored satin fabric, and intricate beadwork” (Brown 104). Because of all the materials that’s used, the costume can weigh as much as three hundred pounds (Thompson). Furthermore, the beadwork of the costumes is very important. According to Brown, “the suit may be decorated with beaded scenes of Plains Indians warriors...or pieces of Native American material culture like arrows, tomahawks, and teepees” (108). The Indians used the scenes as the basis for their beadwork design. Additionally, Mardi Gras Indians take great pride in not receiving any help when sewing their costumes (Brown 6). This is a very important rule in costume making and if anyone break this rule, they will be looked down upon. Although receiving help on making a costume is considered taboo, few of the young Mardi Gras Indians of today’s generation often “pay others to sew some or all of their costumes” (Brown 108). When the Indians find out that someone didn’t sew their own suit, it makes the Chief angry and shocked (Brown 108). Knowing that most Indian take pride in their work, it is very surprising to know that some

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