The Big Chiefs of Carnival:  Spirit Leads My Needle

In interviews with Ohio State University at Newark students from 2012-2015, the Big Chiefs of the Mardi Gras Indian Council describe their determination to preserve their unique culture. The Mardi Gras Indian tradition  has been essential to forging community bonds and providing opportunities for leadership and creative expression to African American men and women, yet has been continually threatened by racism, marginalization, police brutality, failed levees and generational change.

 A film by The Ohio State University at Newark

with the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Council

Executive producers

Bertrand Butler, Virginia Cope and Michael Yearling

Co-producers

Lolis Eric Elie,  Pableaux Johnson,  Ashlye Keaton, Tiyi Morris

Associate Producer

Jennifer Anthony

 

 A service learning project led by The Ohio State University at Newark faculty

Tiyi Morris

Elizabeth Caldwell

Katherine Borland

Jose Cabral

 With students

Tessa Feick

Steven Foley

Rian Hamadnalla

Chelsea Hinshaw

Tiffany O’Connor

Michael Piemonte

Vikas Pulluru

Ashley Theodore

Torah Silvera

Lenise Sunnenberg

Angela Whipple

Still photography

Pableaux Johnson

Tara Feely

Jerry Moran, Native Orleanian Fine Photography

Al Kennedy

Christopher Porché West

 Video

Leonard Smith III

L.J. Goldstein

 A very special thanks to

Bertrand Butler, Founder and Director, The Mardi Gras Indian Council

Laurita “Rita” Dollis, founder, The Queens of the Nation

 

The filmmakers and producers would like to give a special thanks to the Chiefs for telling the stories and sharing the history of the Indians

 

Big Chief Tyrone Casby, Mohawk Hunters

Chief Howard Miller, Creole Wild West

Big Chief Victor Fi Yi YiHarris, Mandingo Warriors

Big Chief Roderick Bald Eagle Sylvas, Wild Tchoupitoulas

Big Chief Keith Keke Gibson, Ninth Ward Comanche Hunters

Big Chief David Montana, Washitaw Nation

Big Chief Larry Bannock, Golden Star Hunters

Big Chief Bo Dollis Jr., Wild Magnolias

Big Chief Thomas Landry, Geronimo Hunters

Big Chief Romeo Bougere, Ninth Ward Hunters

Big Chief Waddie Griffin, Young Cherokee

Big Chief Al Womble, Cheyenne Hunter

 

The filmmakers and producers also would especially like to thank the Black Masking Mardi Gras Indian nation for its cooperation and ongoing dedication to craft, tradition and the culture of New Orleans.

 Algiers Warriors

Big Chief Troy Young

Buffalo Hunters

Big Chief Irwin Spoon

Spyboy Jermaine Buddy [need last names]

Cheyenne Hunters

Big Chief Al Womble

Big Queen Wanda Womble

Queen Ashley Womble

Spyboy Allen Womble

Spyboy Alex Harris

Flag Boy Darryl O'Neal

Creole Wild West

Big Chief Little Walter Cook

Chief Howard Miller

Queen Rukiya Elenora Brown

Little Chief Bam Kendell Cook, Jr.

Spyboy Walter Sandifer

Spyboy Walter Sandifer Jr.

Spyboy Horace Anderson

Gang Flag Irving Honey Bannister

Wild Man Aubry Duncan

Kendell Cook, Sr.

As well as these contributors to the film

Louisiana Weekly

The Birmingham Public Library

The Historic New Orleans Collection

The Amistad Research Center

The New Orleans Public Library

Robert Norman Brown, for his research and discovery of the earliest known photo of Mardi Gras Indians, from the 1903 New Orleans Times Democrat photograph

 William MacDonald, Dean and Director, The Ohio State University at Newark

 The Ohio State University at Newark Warner Center Library

 Leslie J. Najjar, The Central Ohio Technical College

The Ohio State University Digital Union

 Dooky Chase restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

 

The Big Queens of Carnival: It’s Your Glory

This documentary tells the often overlooked story of the women who are integral to the culture’s survival during Carnival season and throughout the year. This documentary, based on interviews Ohio State Newark campus students conducted in spring 2015, gives voice to the powerful women who provide crucial support for a community tradition best known for its Big Chiefs. Like the chiefs, they design and sew their suits by hand each year, and they provide crucial support to the chiefs and the community.

A film by The Ohio State University at Newark

with the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Council

and the Queens of the Nation

Executive producers

Bertrand Butler, Virginia Cope and Michael Yearling

Co-producers

Lolis Eric Elie, Pableaux Johnson, Ashlye Keaton, Tiyi Morris

Associate Producer

Jennifer Anthony

 A service learning project led by Ohio State University at Newark faculty

Tiyi Morris

With students

Ashley Theodore

Torah Silvera

Lenise Sunnenberg

Angela Whipple

Rian Hamadnalla

Steven Foley

Chelsea Hinshaw

Still photography

Pableaux Johnson

 A very special thanks to

Bertrand Butler, Director and Founder, The Mardi Gras Indian Council

Laurita “Rita” Dollis, founder, The Queens of the Nation

And the queens who participated

AusettuaAmorAmenkum, Washitaw Nation

Kim Boutte, Fi Yi Yi, Mandingo Warriors

Keyonna Braxton, Comanche Hunters

Elenora Rukiya Brown, Creole Wild West

Bo Dollis, Jr., Wild Magnolias

Laurita “Rita” Dollis, Wild Magnolias

Sula Janet Evans, Queens of the Nation

Michelle Hammothe, Shining Star Hunters

Cherice Harrison-Nelson, Guardians of the Flame

Ree (Pauline) Johnson, Creole Wild West

Rita Johnson, Mohawk Hunters

David Montana, Washitaw Nation

Kelly Pearson, Creole Osceolas

Mary KayStevenson, Wild Tchoupitoulus

Mercedes Stevenson, Wild Tchoupitoulas (retired)

Wanda Womble, Cheyenne Hunters

 And to these contributors to the film

The McKenna Museum of African-American Art

Beverly McKenna andLe Musée de f.p.c.

The Mardi Gras Indian Council

Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame and Donald Harrison, Sr. Museum

The Kings & Queens Emporium

The Historic New Orleans Collection

The Amistad Research Center

William MacDonald, Dean, The Ohio State University at Newark

The Ohio State University at Newark Warner Center Library

The Ohio State University Digital Union

Leslie J.Najjar, The Central Ohio Technical College

Dooky Chase restaurant