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Mardi Gras Indians: Ideological Transition in African American Art

Mardi Gras Indian art, as we know it, is a transcultural blend of African and Native American traditions in a European context, the New Orleans Carnival. The assimilation of African art into early American societies was frequently challenged and suppressed by Europeans; nonetheless, Africans reworked and expanded African expressions to ensure the survival of African American art forms. The masquerading art of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians is an example of the reworking or reconfiguring of African traditions.

Although the precise origin of this cultural phenomenon is uncertain, it is generally accepted that the Mardi Gras Indians began to perform near the end of the 19th century. Today’s practitioners state that their activities acknowledge their African heritage and pay homage to Native Americans ...

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