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Beautiful new book chronicles prominent New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indian tribe

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NEW ORLEANS -- The spirit work of one of New Orleans' most prominent Mardi Gras Indian tribes takes center stage in a new book that chronicles their incredible creations.

Fire in the Hole, a joint project between the Neighborhood Story Project and the Backstreet Cultural Museum, is a collection of interviews and vibrant photos of Fi Yi Yi and the Mandingo Warriors.

After masking for 53 years, Big Chief Victor Harris gets a lot of limelight in the beautiful new book.

"Before I start making a suit, I have to pray to the ancestors to get their blessings," Big Chief Harris says. "That's where I'm coming from. They think this is something that started here in America, but tens of thousands of years we've been doing this in Africa, and it's something that's translated to America."

The book tells the story of both the tribe and the extraordinary work that goes into crafting their elaborate costumes.

For costume designer and sewist Jack Robertson, the reason why he works so hard every year is simple.

"I love to do it," he says. "If I didn't love to do it, I wouldn't be doing it."

The book's release -- on Monday, St. Joseph's Day (March 19) -- kicks off with a second line at 5 p.m. It starts at 1431 Annette Street and ends at the Backstreet Cultural Museum in Treme.

 

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