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Mardi Gras Indians Trace Roots to Slaves

Darren Beard, who performed in New Orleans on Sunday with the Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indians, shows off a traditional costume.
Darren Beard, who performed in New Orleans on Sunday with the Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indians, shows off a traditional costume.

When black slaves were brought to the Gulf region, they were not allowed to participate in Mardi Gras revelries. But the elaborate celebration was difficult to resist and blacks found a way around the racist law: They "masked" themselves as Native American Indians.

NPR's Farai Chideya spoke with Cherice Harrison Nelson and her brother Donald Harrison Jr. about carrying on the tradition.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Farai Chideya
Farai Chideya is a multimedia journalist who has worked in print, television, online, and radio. Prior to joining NPR's News & Notes, Chideya hosted Your Call, a daily news and cultural call-in show on San Francisco's KALW 91.7 FM. Chideya has also been a correspondent for ABC News, anchored the prime time program Pure Oxygen on the Oxygen women's channel, and contributed commentaries to CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and BET. She got her start as a researcher and reporter at Newsweek magazine. In 1997 Newsweek named her to its "Century Club" of 100 people to watch.

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