Mardi Gras Indians are one of the true unique cultural splendors in the Big Easy. Following Emancipation, New Orleans blacks began masking at Carnival. This practice had been prohibited during slavery. Many chose to honor Native Americans by creating feathered headdresses and costumes, and the tradition of the " Indian Suit " began.
New Orleans "Indian Gangs" are not Native Americans. Closed groups of African American men parade in the elaborate costumes of feathers and beads that they make themselves. These groups are called "Indians" because their names refer to the Native American tribes.