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Here’s Why The Black Community In New Orleans Celebrate Mardi Gras Parades To Honor Indians

Mardi<a href=httpshowafricacom> <a>Gras<a href=httpshowafricacom> <a>celebrationPhoto credit the Reuters

 

The pact began in the 1720s as a campaign by the Natchez Indians to repel a French invasion of their lands in order to establish tobacco plantations. The Indians hired enslaved Africans on the plantation to help them fight the invaders in exchange for helping them gain their freedom.

They enlisted the help of many enslaved Africans and launched an attack on the French with 176 Indian warriors. They failed in their revolt because one of the West Indies Company’s sailors overheard their plot and revealed it to the slaveholders. According to the African American Registry, the French crushed the revolt and beheaded the enslaved Africans, placing their remains on pikes as a warning to anyone who helped the Indians.

The French maintained control of the enclave for two years, with no attempts by slaves to stage a revolt. They relaxed plantation laws to allow enslaved Africans to gather and have fun, as documented in 1732 archives. It was during this time that people of African descent in New Orleans, as well as free borns, were given time off on weekends to work and earn money.

They had earned the French’s trust by allowing some enslaved Africans to join French forces to defend their fort in the event of an Indian attack. In 1736, their unit fought alongside Governor Beinville in the Chickasaw War against the English and their Indian allies. This established the trust earned by the enslaved Africans, leading to them being given a space known as ‘place de negroes’ by the Spanish authorities in 1744, which later became known as Congo Square.

As they transacted business, produced goods, and engaged each other, the square became their haven. They also celebrated by singing and dancing in the square, where enslaved Africans from all walks of life thronged.

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Despite these liberties and recognition, enslaved Africans never forgot their treaty with the Indians. They devised new plans, and the square became their meeting place to strategize. When they escaped, they secretly relied on the Indians to find their way around the swamps. They developed a relationship with them, which led to the establishment of the Underground Railroad to the maroon camps.

They had earned the French’s trust by allowing some enslaved Africans to join French forces to defend their fort in the event of an Indian attack. In 1736, their unit fought alongside Governor Beinville in the Chickasaw War against the English and their Indian allies. This established the trust earned by the enslaved Africans, leading to them being given a space known as ‘place de negroes’ by the Spanish authorities in 1744, which later became known as Congo Square.

As they transacted business, produced goods, and engaged each other, the square became their haven. They also celebrated by singing and dancing in the square, where enslaved Africans from all walks of life thronged.

Despite these liberties and recognition, enslaved Africans never forgot their treaty with the Indians. They devised new plans, and the square became their meeting place to strategize. When they escaped, they secretly relied on the Indians to find their way around the swamps. They developed a relationship with them, which led to the establishment of the Underground Railroad to the maroon camps.

In recognition of this, enslaved Africans began dressing as Indians and celebrating Mardi Gras in their own unique way. Those who formed alliances with the Indians referred to themselves as Black Indians, and when the time came, they fled through the swamps.

Mardi Gras took on a new dimension in 1771, when people of African descent dressed alongside Indians to celebrate the traditional parade. The participation of enslaved Africans in the parade alarmed the authorities, who observed the slaves’ mass escape through the wearing of feathers and masks, as well as their presence at balls.

For example, the Spanish authorities in Cabildo prohibited people of African descent from wearing these costumes, leaving Africans with no choice but to wear their masks and feathers only in Congo Square. In 1783, a group of free men decided that the black community needed a social net, so they formed the Perseverance Benevolent & Mutual Aid Association for insurance and social assistance to blacks.

They organized black carnivals and walking clubs until a slave revolt plot by free men was discovered. The Spanish administration executed 23 plotters in 1795. Later in the nineteenth century, however, the parade received a boost in New Orleans when both Indians and Africans recognized the event as their pact to work together against racial segregation in a system where they were seen as outcasts.

 

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Written by How Africa News

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