Present- 2018 Big Chief Keelian “Dump” Boyd
“The Hat Man”
In the soon to come but not yet available Black Masking Dictionary, “The Hat Man” – A person that constructs crowns for/with Black Masking Indians, Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs as well as Carnival Krewes.
Big Chief Keelian “Dump” Boyd is the answer to the question, what happens when “Your” chiefs’ favorite hook-up man starts his own Tribe? Well one thing will be for sure, his tribe will be extremely “Pretty”, intricate and something never seen before. I asked Chief who taught him or handed down” The Hat Man” tradition to him? He says it wasn’t one person, it was an accumulation of experiences and art classes and he created something of his own. Chief Dump says, “it’s like a bad Smokey (Robinson) record and I just said let me add some bad guitar licks to it!” Big Chief credits old friend/mentor and colleague instructor and sculptor, Ahk Phan as a person that showed him what was possible with his hands and art. Mamma Furu, Coach and the Louis Armstrong Development Program gave him discipline. From the ages of 8 to 12 he says he learned how to be a young man and how to be humble and to accept things for what they were worth. When Chief got older and he started truly considering art he looked at Monet for his work with flowers and lilies, bayous and pads of natural settings. “Then I started to look into my own people. I did a little research on Jean Michel Basquiat and the history of him and I felt like it was so awesome, I felt like I was so him and I didn’t feel like it he wasn’t finished doing what he had to do, so I wanted to finish what started, but in my own way.” “I’m at my freest state, I’m in my Garage/studio creating what nobody can stop me from creating. Nobody can tell me what color to wear, nobody can tell me what beads to choose, nobody can tell me where I can go for the beads, and no one can beat me for what I’m wearing. You respect me for who I am on that day. I wish our government saw it that way; we would be in a better place. There is a lot of sacrifices we make to do this, and I’m not going to say it’s for nothing because it’s for my people. The greatest thing about being a Mardi Gras Indian, the greatest thing about being a Black Masking Indian is that it’s Black. It’s not Bacchus, it’s not Rex, it’s not Zulu, it’s not Orpheus it’s not any of that it’s Black its….us, it’s what they didn’t want us to enjoy with them. The Mardi Gras part I can leave out, but as a Carnival Indian, I can accept being called more than Mardi Gras because of the history.”
Chief says he received the name Young Maasai Hunters from Big Chief Shaka Zulu of Golden Feather Tribe. Chief first masked in 1996 as a Spy Boy for Monogram Hunters under Big Chief Tyronne “Pie” Stevenson. Chief Dump Respects the game (mentorship) he received from Monogram Hunters. As He says “That’s the only Chief I know, these people are really still indigenous to what they do, and that’s us. We are still indigenous to what we do. A lot of things we do are still secretive, a lot of things we do are still precious, and I don’t want to release that. Because it’s still for us, everything else is for everybody. Rap is for everybody; hip-hop is for everybody. That wasn’t for everyone at one point. But a dollar sign changed a lot for a lot, but we still have set backs and deal with life! We still have that structure that can’t be conquered so we are Invictus!”
I asked Chief after 12 years of masking what made him think he was ready to bring his own tribe out in the tricentennial of the City and what was the feeling that morning coming out? Chief says “I pretty much was prepared, because I did so much for young kids, I did so much to help a lot of people in the neighborhood, not only my neighborhood. I have helped guys from uptown and guy’s downtown in the 9th Ward. I’ve held plums and I’ve held feathers know what I’m saying.” When you have touched every aspect of the Black Masking World its only right you become what you’re supposed to become. I didn’t take this; I was given this by Big Chief Tyronne “Pie” Stevenson my cousin.”
Although Chief Keelian” Dump” Boyd Tribe just came out this year, his family name of Louis Dolliole is both prestigious and large in members, arrived in Spanish Louisiana in early 1700” s dating back before the Louisiana Purchase. Louis Dolliole son Jean Louis is recorded as one of the major builders of the French Quarters. I asked Chief, having so much invested in this culture; what do you feel when you sing in your suit?
“I love it, I love it, because I’m not just singing for me. I’m singing for every entity of a Mardi Gras Indian, every entity of a Black Masking Indian, every entity of a slave, a creole man, an old Black man, I’m singing for my people.” Our songs are spiritual in a million and one ways” Because they can be so encouraging and so uplifting. They are not all about oh I’m going uptown and kill this Chief. No, we are going to make peace with that Chief uptown, because it’s about unification.”
This was an enlightening interview that, again we could not fit all in this article. Please go to Bnola.net for video interviews with more info and content!
By Glenn Jones