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Unsung heroes of Mardi Gras

The history of Mardi Gras Indians has been shrouded in mystery and folklore since they began taking to the streets in the mid-19th century. There is a reason for that. The rituals of these tribes aren’t for sale. In fact, very little profit comes from being a Mardi Gras Indian, but the love of New Orleans and the ancestry it affords is more than enough for the men and women keeping this tradition alive. Dressing up in full regalia to celebrate festivals like Super Sunday is a point of pride for them. Corey, the Chieftain of the Black Feather tribe, has been training for this his entire life. Although new to the leadership role, his dedication and sacrifice to their cause is hardly immature. He meticulously chooses each bead to adorn his costume, which he wears with confidence, demonstrating what it means to be a Mardi Gras Indian.

Their love of tribe shines through everything they do, but there is a definite downside to the tradition. The institution set forward decades ago has been exploited since its onset. They receive very little compensation for their efforts, but are a vibrant focal point of Mardi Gras. The amount of preparation put into each piece is proof of their dedication. Hand stitched, bead by bead, Corey and his tribe will spend up to a full year putting together the brightly colored statements of their past all to exhibit their love of their New Orleans. Mardi Gras is one day of the year, but the community Corey and his Black Feather Indians have built is made to last generations.