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More than a costume: The tradition of a Mardi Gras Indian

Posted at 10:55 PM, Mar 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-05 23:55:05-05

The plans for what the Indians wear is something they start working on the Mardi Gras before.

A 19-year veteran of the tradition explains that although the colors and designs are breath-taking, each bead and feather represents history.

Patrick Francis has been working on his Mardi Gras costume for this year, every day for hours at a time since June.

“A Mardi Gras suit is never finished. I’ll work on it until Mardi Gras day, there are always things you can add,” Francis said.

While in the midst of this year’s design, the creative process for next year is already underway.

“We are looking at colors already for next year,” Francis said

The intricate work for these costumes is done by machine.

“I have glued every bead, every stone, everything by hand,” Francis explained. “Like a fisherman gets away, this is how I get away. I get in a zone with this. My wife can’t tell me nothing…anybody else. I don’t hear them, I just work for hours at a time.

This year’s bright yellow, butterfly embellished costume with the chest piece alone weighing 25 pounds was kept top secret until this Mardi Gras stepped out of his front door on the big day.

Francis explained what they wear Mardi Gras day is more than just colorful beauty, it pays homage to two groups of people-Native Americans and Africans.

“To show them respect, we come back and build suits in their style. The bead work that is in our blood, our ancestors working with beads,” Francis said.

A tradition and one of the most iconic symbols of mardi gras –rooted in history, the tedious work does matter.

” Yes, I really do love it,” Francis said.