March 16, 2008

Mardi Gras Indian stereotypes

Mardi Gras Indians show plumage in Uptown paradeTaylor, an interior designer by trade, began sewing as a toddler, masking first in 1956 with his uncle's tribe, the Yellow Jackets. He's led the 6th Ward's White Cloud Hunters since 1984 and is known for detailed needlework, a keen eye for color and a lush voice. Like other Indians, he believes that a spirit of sorts overtakes him when he's singing or chanting with a drum beating the right beat. "You can tell a true Indian by looking at his eyes," Taylor said. "He gets that look, a spooky look."

For several hours Sunday afternoon, Uptown New Orleans was a freeway of stunning feathers. About 100 Indians started the parade at A.L. Davis Park at Washington Avenue and La Salle Street. Every few blocks, more feathers merged into the procession. As the parade turned onto Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, a tribe stood waiting at nearly every cross street.

First came Spirit of FiYiYi, led by master sewer Big Chief Victor Harris, green beaded lizards on his shoulders like epaulets and, on his shield, another beaded lizard about as long as a baseball bat. "FiYiYi, FiYiYi," sang his percussionists, beating drums and tambourines, as they gathered near the street, spreading out their wings for photos and waiting for the parade to arrive. The Apache Hunters came in near South Robertson Street, the Wild Magnolias at Clara Street and the Wild Tchoupitoulas just before Willow Street.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Mardi Gras:  "To be an Indian is a very special calling."

No comments: