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Photo of the Week 20

Guardians of the Flame - New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians

Guardians of the Flame - New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians. (Back row, left to right) Cherice (Big Queen) Harrison-Nelson, Donald (Big Chief) Harrison Sr., Brian Nelson. (Front row) Kiel and Christian Scott, Photo by Nic Paget-Clarke.

"The tradition of masquerading as Mardi Gras Indians has been carried on in the New Orleans African American community since the 1880s, however the exact origin is unknown. Participants attribute its origin to the African American / Native American bonds forged during the slavery era. During this time Native Americans welcomed, accepted, and sheltered run-away slaves. Because this humanitarianism was never forgotten, when African Americans began to participate in the local tradition of masquerading, they chose to mask as Indians. This was a form of paying respect and homage for the assistance extended to them during the slavery era." -- Guardians of the Flame

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