Year of the Spy Boy (2013)

Spy Boy Yearbook (2013) cover image

Running. . . .scouting. . . .signaling. . . .spying! The Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame Spy Boy Yearbook profiles 38 Spy Boys.

Each gang or tribe runs under the leadership of a Big Chief and possibly some Chiefs of lower rank. Gangs typically include one of more Queens, a Wild Man, a Flag Boy, and various other members. The Spy Boy runs several blocks ahead of the rest of the group, searching for other Indians. He uses hand signals to give information to the Flag Boy, who informs the Big Chief of approaching tribes by waving a flag or stick. One often sees the Spy Boy running or marching solo way ahead of the group.

Anyone who wants to understand the culture of the Mardi Gras Indians must listen to the stories in their words as told by the members of the group. This book contains some of those stories taken from the mouths of the Spy Boys. The writers asked many things people want to know about being a Spy Boy. Some of the information was too confidential to share, but this book will still tell you a lot about the secret life of these Mardi Gras Indian gang members. With new gangs entering the Mardi Gras Indian Nation every year and multiple members running Spy Boy for some tribes, it would be impossible to include or even count everyone who wears the title “Spy Boy.” This book provides a look into the lives of some of the social warriors and spiritual guardians who serve as the eyes of their Big Chiefs when they parade on the streets of New Orleans.

Roslyn Johnson Smith
from the Introduction to The Spy Boy Yearbook (2013)