Queens Rule

“Queens Rule!” (2008). This was the first of our short films exploring the experiences and roles of women and girls in Mardi Gras Indian Culture. It debuted as part of our exhibit in the Grandstand at the 2008 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

The Queens Rule! project began in late 2005 as a collaboration between the Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame and the Newcomb College Institute at Tulane University, then under founding direction of Professor Rebecca Mark. Our idea was to bring women together to explore, reflect on, and celebrate  the “queen” position in the culture and the arts and labor of Mardi Gras Indian women as maskers and supporters as we all worked together to help stabilize the Indian community in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood.

The project grew from submitting emergency artist grants in the computer lab at Newcomb College Center for Research on Women (wearing coats and gloves because heat hadn’t been restored to the building yet) to help Indians be able to mask in 2006, to hosting community-building social events, to collaborating with student filmmakers through NCCROW and the Tulane Communication Department to produce a series of short films about Mardi Gras Indian Queens, to participating in Newcomb Summit conferences.

Our collaboration with Newcomb ended in 2011, but the project has continued in collaboration with partners including WWOZ and the McKenna Museum of African American Art. In total, there have been fourteen Queens Rule! events, panel discussions, screenings, performances, and exhibitions so far.




“Queen B: A Portrait of Littdell Bannister” (2009). Meet the Gang Queen of the Creole Wild West.


“Portrait of Laurita Dollis: Big Queen of the Wild Magnolias” (2010)


“The Queen As She Lives: Ausettua Amor Amenkum of the Washitaw Nation”


“Portrait of Patrina Peters: Wild Queen of the Red Hawk Hunters” (2011)


“Portrait of Mercedes “Mercy” Stevenson: Big Queen of the Wild Tchoupitoulas” (2011)


“Cherice Harrison-Nelson: 146 Days to Mardi Gras ” (2009)


“Portrait of Cherice Harrison-Nelson” (2011)

Collaboration with WWOZ


Display of the 2015 Mardi Gras Indian Queens Calendar in the WWOZ Swamp Shop
Display of the 2015 Mardi Gras Indian Queens Calendar in the WWOZ Swamp Shop

 Listen to Karen Celestan’s interviews with Mardi Gras Indian Queens featured on the WWOZ 2015 calendar.