'Indians, Here They Come'



Posted on February 21, 2012 at 11:22 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 21 at 11:42 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS -- Not everyone chose to celebrate Fat Tuesday watching parades or adventuring through the French Quarter.

Others marked the holiday supporting the Mardi Gras Indians.

"If you're in the click, you know where it's at!" said Edward Hilton who drove from Mississippi to New Orleans to support his nephew.

Near the intersection of Dryades and Second, Mardi Gras Indian Chiefs squared off to the traditional "Humba" chant, demanding respect from other chiefs for their handcrafted suits.

First chiefs were flanked by many people, including second chiefs, queens, spy and flag boys.

The Comanche Hunters were one of several Mardi Gras Indians celebrating this Fat Tuesday tradition. On the sidelines, dozens of spectators were swaying, dancing and clapping to the second line beat.

"I love it! I come all the way from Texas every year just to come out to see the Indians. I've been coming out to see the Indians since I was a little girl. I would bypass the parades just to see the Indians," said spectator Lashime Brown.

Intricate designs of beads, stones, feathers and material glistening in the sunlight. In some cases, chiefs decked in suits weighing 100 pounds a piece.

"I sew year round. Christmas and Thanksgiving, all year round," said Phillip Lomax, Junior.

Hours, days, weeks and months of hard work leading up to Fat Tuesday, a day Lomax sews and lives for. The New Orleans native finished the final touches to his suit bright and early this morning.

"I'm really happy. If you take this from me, I don't know what I'd do," said Lomax.

"It's very important. Its part of New Orleans tradition," said Derrick Hulin, the Chief of the Golden Blades.

Hulin says the Mardi Gras Indian tradition is about preserving a part of the city's fiber that has been around for generations. An art that continues to bring smiles to strangers and friends, young and old.

"I love it! And as you can tell everybody out here, everybody loves to see the Mardi Gras Indians," said Hulin.

The Mardi Gras Indians named themselves after Native Americans to pay them respect for their assistance in escaping slavery. It was often local Native Americans who accepted slaves into their society when they made a break for freedom.