Tribe Timeline: Present – 1978 Creole Osceola Tribe 1972- 1977 Yellow Pocahontas Tribe
A chief with unbridled imagination and Love of the power of the tambourine Big Chief Delcour started masking with the Yellow Pocahontas Tribe under Big Chief Tootie Montana. Though Big Chief loved his tutelage under Chief Tootie, the style of sewing became an issue and his imagination for his own style pushed him to leave and begin his own tribe the Creole Osceola Tribe. Teaming up with the Artist, Albert Brown, Chief began to create the style of beading called “3D Flat”. While sewing into his Creole roots of Bosco Ville where he comes out (reveals new suite for Mardi Gras) from his 1918 Family home. This Creole area from which he hails along with Chief Osceola of Florida whom started the first Underground Railroad is how the Tribe received its name sake. We sat down with Big Chief Delcour and received first-hand accounts of his 48 plus years of masking trough segregation, Vietnam, integration, police relations and City support of the culture he so dearly loves.
Q) What was your first experience with this Black Masking Culture?
A) Watching them, I admired Tootie Montana. I was fresh out of Vietnam. I remember following the Indians when I was a little boy and would come out Bosco Ville, in town, but was always escorted by my parents. Watching the Indians that was one tribe that caught my attention.
Q) What made you want to be a Black Masking Indian?
A) Excitement, it makes me calm. I knew what I like to wear, but I couldn’t draw it. But I had a friend Albert Brown. He can draw anything. He can draw you while you’re talking. He can draw animation. So, as time went on, that’s what we did, he designed for me for about 40 some years. Our words were, I dream it, he draws it and I sew it.
Q) What are the responsibilities of a Chief?
A) It’s guiding your tribe, so that’s what I usually go by in a manner that you’re going to do how I have imaged it to be. If you can’t do what I imaged it to be then you’re going against all what I want it to be. So that’s why I have those type of things in my mind to do with my tribe.
Q) Why did you leave the Yellow Pocahontas?
A) My imagination was getting stronger. I loved him. He always treated me good but I figured I couldn’t sew like they sew. I couldn’t sew on the material like they sew. Like some guys used that as a proof of sewing “look at my fingers”. I didn’t want to bleed like that. We found a way to sew this where we didn’t have to bleed, and it came out good.
Q) What is the difference in your style of sewing from the YPH?
A) They called theirs a 3-dimensional raised, and it’s very pretty. I call ours a 3-dimensional flat. As you can see it’s defined very well, it lets you see the picture. I don’t sew patches I sew sheets. When I finish that sheet its ready to go on.
Q) Meaning of the name Creole Osceola
A) I named it the Creole Osceola because we considered our area to be creole. It’s an old creole area, come from the upper 7th ward to Gentilly. A lot of people don’t know the first underground to free slaves was through Chief Osceola from Florida and he also married a slave woman so I said hey this is what I want to do and this is what I did.
Q) How do you combine uptown and downtown styles?
A) Now we are territorial and I was a downtown tribe. When I first came out, first ten maybe fifteen years I wore feathers. But my mind my imaginary mind it brought me into an uptown thing which were plum but I didn’t want them long. I wanted like the size of a feather, but they were plum. I started putting plums on there, now I sew with beads which is an uptown thing. Downtown was a sequence Indian and I mix beads with my work and sequence. So, I mixed an uptown thing with a downtown thing.
Q) What is most precious in Indian practice?
A) It’s a different age thing now. If you would ever go back and look at some pictures, your practices were ceremonial. Beautiful thing, tambourines were very important. Sometimes now you have orchestras, ain’t no Africans or Indians had no orchestras. Tambourines… that’s the one thing I likes about the Pocahontas. When you got a good tambourine practice. Its power coming out. Everybody sending that from there heart, to their arm through that tambourines! You got guys that can beat that like an orchestra. They beat it just like an orchestra. That means a whole lot when you are standing there watching that…that’s monster man, that’s monster.
Q) Chief what words of advice would you give youth coming into this culture?
A) Well, it’s hard to dictate this to the youth. You can only do this if the youth want to do it, you can’t make him or her do it. In doing it, I would say test your heart, think about it. Know if this is what you really want to do. If you do it one or two years and you don’t do it no more, than your heart is not in it. Check your heart out, think about it, and don’t fool yourself. You can have just as much fun following the Indians. I told you earlier they got guys never put a suit on and they know more about Indians than anybody, than anybody!
Glenn Jones Data News Weekly Contributor