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Jockomo: The Native Roots of Mardi Gras Indians

  • Jockomo celebrates the transcendent experience of Mardi Gras, encompassing both ancient and current traditions of New Orleans. The Mardi Gras Indians are a renowned and beloved fixture of New Orleans public culture. Yet very little is known about the indigenous roots of their cultural practices. For the first time, this book explores the native ceremonial traditions that influenced the development of the Mardi Gras Indian culture and system. Jockomo reveals the complex story of exchanges that have taken place over the past three centuries, generating new ways of singing and speaking, with many languages mixing as people's lives overlapped. The earliest instances of Mardi Gras Indian costumes show the influence of minstrelsy and other forms of popular entertainment that emerged during the relentless growth of the United States across the continent. By the beginning of the 20th century, Mardi Gras Indians had become a recognized local tradition. Over the course of the next 100 years, their unique practices would move from the periphery to the very center of public consciousness as a quintessentially New Orleanian form of music and performance, even while retaining some of the most ancient features of Native culture and language. Along with the written narrative, Jockomo offers a visual journey of colonial paintings, archival images, and vibrant contemporary photographs, all showing the perceptual and visual evolution of Mardi Gras Indians. From the very first known photo of Mardi Gras Indians--published in 1903--to the latest pictures taken by John McCusker, we witness the development of Mardi Gras Indian costumes and traditions.

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