Big Chief Tyrone “Pie” Stevenson – Monogram Hunters
Timeline: monogram hunters
Chief Pie -Present – 1992
Chief Becate Batiste – 1850’s – 1930’s
Chief Tyrone Pie Stevenson is well-known, well respected and holds the banner for one of the original tribes in New Orleans the Monogram Hunters. This storied tribe was headed by the father of Tootie Montana from the famed Yellow Pocahontas. The tribe disbanded after Big Chief Becate Batiste passed, but the Congressional Library has Big Chief Becate Batiste masking early as 1855 in Treme’. In 1992 Chief Pie with the blessing of his than Big Chief Tootie Montana and his second Chief brother Edward Montana to bring back their father’s tribe namesake. Chief Pie and his 30 plus tribe members holds the honor and history close to their hearts and Deep in their Soul!
Big Chief Pie, second Chief is his son Jeremy Stevenson along with his queen Denice Smith all echo Chiefs’ strong belief in the need for a one Indian Nation. The debate of downtown and uptown is distracting from the true vultures of our culture. There is only one culture! This thing, they got going on with this “up and down thing” it’s gotta stop! At some point, we gotta be able to be an Indian Nation! When we get to that than all the other doors will open.
Q) Chief what year did you start masking?
a) I started with Yellow Pocahontas at 12 years old under Tootie Montana.
Q) Why did you choose Monogram Hunters as your tribe’s name?
a) I masked 25 years under Tootie and I wanted to pull my own tribe. So, I went to him and I asked him in 1992 Chief can I take your daddy’s (tribe) name, and I did that because, like I said I wanted to give something back. Not just cause the dream I had, even though nobody understood where I was coming from. When it’s all said and done or when I’m done, or if we done before Yellow Pocahontas, or if Yellow Pocahontas is done before me at least we will still have a Yellow Pocahontas on the street. So that’s why I asked them to take his dads name to be Monogram Hunters.
Q) Is Black Masking easy to do with such a large tribe?
a) It’s hard, it’s real hard to Mask. You know you take food off you table to Mask. Listen I have seen husband and wife’s break up because you Masking. That (masking) comes first, that’s how deep the Spirit is. Know, I need, and I got a personal relationship with Jesus just like I got with this Indian thing. You know what I’m saying, and I told you that earlier. Imma compromise with you and you got to compromise with me, but it’s a beautiful thing when you got a whole bunch of people.
Q) Would there be a Mardi Gras without Indians?
a) If we as a nation stay together this Indian thing we would be able to get it up. There’s No way we should be paying for feathers. There’s No way we should be paying for beads nothing on the Indian suit, cause it’s something we giving to the City. Just like Rex, and Bacchus. We giving a whole lot to the City. This is one Gumbo. This one Gumbo pot and without the Indians you have no Mardi Gras. Without the Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs you have no Mardi Gras. Without the baby dolls, you have now Mardi Gras. Without the Skeleton Man, you have no Mardi Gras. Without Rex, you have no Mardi Gras. So, all these things are important, but Rex and Bacchus and all these are they identifiable. But the Indians you don’t see us in commercial or on Bill Boards.
Q) Is it worth it sewing with your queen?
a) It’s always worth it. When I sit at the table and I got to fight with queen about the bead color, but this is what we got to do for it to be what it is supposed to be. Queen: Denice Smith – We bounce off each other. He would suggest a color and I would say NO let’s do this color. I asked him to try the gold over his silver. Chief Pie: I said I not putting no gold on that, Go to sleep women. Queen: When I woke up he had I don’t know how many pieces done in gold. (Queen laughs heavy…) Chief Pie: It’s all worth it the devil has his moments, but God gets the victory.
Q) Tribe is family – 83
a) Most people have a tribe. We have a family tribe. We are bout it about it every day. When I say we bout it about it every day? We not bout no drama. Don’t want to hurt nothing don’t want to see nothing die. But we are committed to what we do. There’s a difference between some of the people. Anybody can put an Indian suit on, but do you have the love for this in you. I had this since I was 12 years old I had it before then. I just had to recognize what my dream was.
Q) What is Black Masking for you?
a) When people come down I want them to know when they see (my) the suit that’s what’s inside of me. When I paint my face red. When I put on these Indian suits. When I sew these Indian suits. It’s not just for me. It’s for the people I’ve never seen before. Its people that came an gone (inside of me). You’re just not seeing me. You’re seeing Tootie your seeing his brother, you will see spy boy, flag boy, and all the people that’s gone. So, when you see me you’re seeing a world of people in me.
Q) What does it mean to be a Chief?
a) It comes from years of sewing, blood, sweat, tear sacrifice. Sometimes even putting your life on the line. You understand! When you put your name on something, you gotta be something!