Mardi Gras Indians Trace Roots to Slaves

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Darren Beard, who performed in New Orleans on Sunday with the Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indians, shows off a traditional costume. hide caption

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Darren Beard, who performed in New Orleans on Sunday with the Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indians, shows off a traditional costume.

When black slaves were brought to the Gulf region, they were not allowed to participate in Mardi Gras revelries. But the elaborate celebration was difficult to resist and blacks found a way around the racist law: They "masked" themselves as Native American Indians.

NPR's Farai Chideya spoke with Cherice Harrison Nelson and her brother Donald Harrison Jr. about carrying on the tradition.

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