CNN PRODUCER NOTE The Mardi Gras Indians are a rich tradition in New Orleans' black neighborhoods, where groups parade and perform in Native American regalia that can take up to a year to make, says ljmagnuson. The custom dates back to the days when blacks were excluded from the city's main Mardi Gras festivities. 'During the days of slavery, Native Americans risked their own lives to help African Americans seeking freedom from slavery. Because of this, the black community honors them in this way,' she says. 'Unfortunately, that is not well known outside of New Orleans ... where most people think of it as a bunch of black people in colorful suits during Mardis Gras.'
- dsashin, CNN iReport producer
While driving around today, traffic slowed to a halt. I was in Treme, in the Seventh Ward of New Orleans, and a gang of Mardis Gras Indians were on the move. On Mardis Gras Day, gangs, or tribes from all over the city converge in the area of Hunter Field to spend the day. The field has a long history with "Indians" and the African American community, almost back to the days of slavery.