Celebrating Big Chief ‘Bo’

Mardi Gras Indians are a staple part of New Orlean’s culture. This tradition comes from slaves paying homage to Indians after they helped them escape

Currently, the Mardi Gras Indians use any chance they get to show off their handcrafted costumes, lovely songs, and infectious spirit.

On Jan. 20, 2015, the Wild Magnolia Indian Tribe lost the leader of their tribe. On Jan. 31, Theodore Emile “Big Chief Bo” Dollis was laid to rest at the Xavier University Convocation Center.

Although his funeral was a somber occasion, one thing was clear: they were there to celebrate the life of Big Chief Bo Dollis.

Bo Dollis was more than “Big Chief”, though, “He was somebody’s baby boy,” says Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu, who spoke at Dollis’ funeral.

Dollis was married and had four children and four grandchildren. He had the Wild Magnolias along with multiple other friends and family who all agreed Dollis has a love for life and people.

“Most people think they have superman for a parent, but we really had superman for a dad,” said son Gerad Dollis at his father’s funeral.

Dollis’s importance to the city was not lost on city officials. New Orleans City Council members proclaimed April 24, 2015 as “Bo Dollis Day.”

After the funeral, his life was celebrated with another New Orleans tradition—the second line. Mardi Gras Indians from different tribes dressed in full regalia as they led citizens down Washington Avenue to celebrate Dollis’ life.

“Bo loved pretty Indians,” said a mourner, a smile on his face as he watched the Indians parade

A staple part of New Orleans, many know Dollis as the Big Chief, but there was more to him. Many people only got to know the legend; few knew the man behind it.

Next: First of Three Tributes: Francis Praised for His Service to Xavier, Community