Jazz Fest: Mardi Gras Indians, Native Americans dazzle crowd



Posted on May 1, 2014 at 7:09 PM

When the Young Seminole Hunters Mardi Gras Indian tribe got fired up, they captivated the crowd with raw, driving, rythmic chanting that had feet tapping and heads nodding to the beat. To perform at Jazz fest is a huge honor -  to enchant the crowd is thrilling.

"I just love to be here," grinned  Wild Man Demond Francois as he talked about the reception from the crowds. "Ohhh, that was amazing, they made my day, they made me happy."

"This is amazing," said audience member Benjamin Behlmann from Miami. "I've never seen anything like this before, the costumes, the music, the weather, you guys are doing it right here."

As they display their incredible hand sewn suits, and chant traditional melodies, they are also sharing Mardi Gras Indian culture with the audience.

"I try to pass on a lot of Africa, and a lot of American Indian cultural mix, with, you know the bayous," said Big Chief Demond Melancon.

"When we sew these suits, we are paying homage to our African stage, and stuff like that," said Spy Boy Rashad Brown. "I sew this suit every year for them."

But we found there were other indians at Jazz Fest, real Native American Indians, including members of the Ojibwe Tribe.

They showed ceremonial costumes and dances to a rapt audience making memories with cell phone cameras.

"To learn about our people, where we came from, and our religions, how we get along in the world," said Albany Potts of Wisconsin, whose tribal name is Red Cloud.

"It's a way of healing for us, and a way of teaching," said Michelle Reed, who is known as Golden Eagle in the Wisconsin Ojibwe tribe. "And it is a way for us to teach our children something of our culture."

"We like to show the people who we are, and we're not forgotten," summed up Albany.

"I think they were wonderful," said Debra Mouton of New Orleans. "I was just asking if I could take a picture, they're just gorgeous."