This is a cultural site dedicated to educating the public and preserving the tradition of The Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans, Louisiana. There are two arms coming together in the shape of a “v”; around the wrists is a chain with broken links at either end. Below it are patches depicting a peace pipe and other Native American symbols. Legend has it that the tradition began after a merchant marine returned to New Orleans from Mexico, where he had been impressed with the Day of the Dead celebrations that occur at the end of October. After consulting with his wife, a counseling psychologist at the University of California Riverside, Chief Drew proceeded to order $12,000 worth of glass crystals and stones from a dealer in New York City. Chief Drew underwent training with the Army’s 101st Airborne unit, as a paratrooper. Their rivalries—which often escalated into acts of violence involving straight razors, knives, guns and hatchets—fascinated Chief Drew. And I’m gonna brag. His left knee had become inflamed, and he’d left his medicine in Los Angeles. The Lord will always take care of babies and damn fools, and you’re at the top of this list.”, As it turned out, the trappings of gang life proved more alluring than the gospel. Aesthetic rivalry having displaced violence among Mardi Gras Indians, even "weapons" become objets d’art. Wherever you go, it’s in your blood, it’s in your heart. Initially, Chief Drew didn’t worry about rounding up members for his gang. Running with the Blackstone Rangers, a gang on the south side of Chicago, he lived the life of an outlaw—stealing and dealing drugs to feed a heroin habit that he’d picked up in Vietnam. More generally, the term denotes a parade involving a brass band, Mardi Gras Indian gang or second-line club. Anna and her sister Pauline Guillemet were Baby Dolls. They were, recalls Chief Drew, a rough-and-tumble bunch: “Kick a man in his ass.”. At the time, Chief Drew was working as a mason for the federal government, in the engineering department of a VA hospital. Donald Harrison Sr. was perplexed. But it wasn’t until witnessing a murder that he summoned the determination to kick the habit for good. “I’m telling ya,” he says, “I’m all mixed up.”. He fashioned “bongo” drums out of oatmeal boxes and Community Coffee cans. For his first outing with Zulu, Chief Drew appeared in an apron trimmed with wolf pelts. Andrew Justin’s pilgrimage from the west coast to roll with Zulu at Mardi Gras 2000 marked his final appearance on the streets of New Orleans as chief of The Wild Tremé Mardi Gras Indians. He enrolled in the National Educational College, in Commerce, Ca., eventually obtaining a degree in biomedical electrical technology. Donald told me: ‘Look, man. If I can’t come in here with this, then me and my gang is not comin’ in at all—keep your key to the city.” The standoff was broken when Jim Singleton, a city councilman, intervened. The tears and dove relate to the Book of John. I tried to give it to a wider community.”. A stunning—and highly intimidating—piece of folk art, it’s trimmed with silk ruffles and coque quills. Chief Drew had begun planning for his own retirement after arriving back in Los Angeles from Mardi Gras 1998. Maurice Justin’s brother George, now residing in Chicago, also played a mean sax. Never tried to hit on her sexually or nothin’, because I wanted to find a real spiritual woman.”. The material, each bead, each image, each stone is carefully selected and added to the Indian Suit with not only precision  the Mardi Gras tradition in mind. You got some ragged-ass people in blue jeans—ain’t doin’ shit.’ I say, ‘I’m gonna show you some real second liners.’ ”, The initial Los Angeles incarnation of the Shake ‘Em Down Second Liners consisted mainly of members of Chief Drew’s extended family who lived in the area. Then I turned militant against society.”. Even after getting married, fathering a daughter and settling into a job at Sherwin Williams—where he worked as a lithographer, printing labels for paint cans—junk was a part of his life. 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