New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans Black Mardi Gras Indian Co-Op, Inc.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Mardi Gras Indian embody the ways in which culture, beliefs, values and practices have become a new, syncretic form unto itself in New Orleans. They are also synonymous with Mardi Gras, and with its resulting tourism that has been central to the city’s economy for decades. However, despite the months-long process required to construct life-sized, wearable sculpture with accompanying choreography and music composition, Mardi Gras Indian are more likely to be fined than compensated as cornerstone cultural producers within New Orleans’ existing economy. The New Orleans Black Mardi Gras Indian Co-Op seeks to address this inequity using a cooperative economics model where members of the Black Mardi Gras Indian Nations work together as one; sharing equally in the historic, cultural, social and economic wealth of their traditions. The co-op is open to all members of all Black masking Indian Nations. 

Jazz and Heritage Vendor Booth  at the New Orleans Black Mardi Gras Indian Co-Op, 201. Photo: Sabrina Montana