64 Parishes


On the Backstreets of Mardi Gras

A photo essay of Mardi Gras Indians from the Backstreet Museum’s founder, Sylvester Francis

Published: February 1, 2016
Last Updated: September 1, 2020

On the Backstreets of Mardi Gras

Photo by Sylvester Francis.

Lionel Delpit of the Black Feather Tribe.

Located in New Orleans’ Treme neighborhood, the oldest African-American enclave in the city, is the Backstreet Cultural Museum where visitors can find an amazing assortment of memorabilia indigenous to Mardi Gras, jazz funerals and other traditions found only in the Crescent City.

For generations, the Mardi Gras Indians have been an integral part of Carnival history. Mardi Gras Indians evolved from a bond African and Native Americans shared in the 18th and 19th centuries in the South, when runaway slaves sought safety among the various tribes living in the area.



The Backstreet Museum’s founder, Sylvester Francis, has spent much of his lifetime documenting Mardi Gras Indian tribes. The Backstreet Cultural Museum is located at 1116 St. Claude Avenue and is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $5 per person. For directions to the museum or more information, call (504) 522-4806 or visit www.backstreetculturalmuseum.org.