Rita Johnson has masked as a Mardi Gras Indian Queen for 60 years. Johnson's participation in the Mardi Gras Indian culture is driven by her commitment to celebrate and continue the tradition and by her creativity, which she expresses through visual arts.
Johnson began masking as a young girl with the Parakeets, designing and sewing her first suit. In 1980, Chief Tyrone Casby selected her to be the Big Queen of the Mohawk Hunters. The Queens' Council selected her to receive the 2006 Queens' Choice Award in recognition of her contributions to the Mardi Gras Indian traditions.
At WWOZ's studios, she sat down for an interview with Karen Celestan to talk about her traditions.