Secret Keepers

Rest in Heaven.


That’s what I’ve been doing.

I had a long post planned for today that I’d written and ready to go. I had to change it. The city’s culture bearers are in mourning tonight, as am I.

Black Masking Indians

You might know them as Mardi Gras Indians, but they prefer the name Black Masking Indians. Even though they are part of the Mardi Gras Culture they stand alone as Black men and women who mask to honor American Indians.

There’s not a lot of events at which you can see them. Mardi Gras, St. Joseph Night, three Super Sundays, Jazzfest and a few special events where they may be performing. If you’ve never seen them, you should. They are as important to this city as any one single group.

The news broke.

Big Queen Kim Boutte passed. At first that’s all we knew. The news started flowing around the streets. Finally published the story. Two nights ago there was a shooting in New Orleans East. A man and woman had been shot as they were leaving a funeral repast, a wake for those of you who don’t the word repast.

At the time, I thought that it was just one of many shootings in the East. I was wrong. I knew the woman died.

She was Big Queen Kim.

Oh no. Oh no. Oh no.

I’ve met a lot of people on the street. Most are good people. Kim Boutte was the kindest person I’d ever met out there. There was one time at a parade – i can’t remember which one — that I made a couple of pictures of her suiting up.

When I reached her she asked for a favor. Could I bend over so she could use my back for a support while she pulled on her moccasins? Of course. She did that, gave me a kiss on my cheek and we went our own ways. Big Queen was her title. She was tiny.

That’s how it is.

We would see each other from time to time like we all do. We were always happy to see each other.

Now she’s gone.

She was killed by our violent street culture that seems never to improve.

The Picture

I made this picture at the festival for Louis Armstrong’s birthday. Most of it take place at the jazz museum near the Quarter, but this event take place after the jazz mass at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church in Treme. The heart of jazz. Just about every group represents. You’ll see first liners, brass bands, Zulus, Indians, Baby Dolls and folks you haven’t seen in a year.

There she was, playing a cowbell. You know, “It needs more cowbell.” I made a few pictures. I circled around and we almost collided. We said hi, and I made more pictures while she danced.

That was it.

Rest in peace, power and in heaven, Big Queen Kim. You’ll be missed.

Stay safe, Have a good thought for our friend.

Published by Ray Laskowitz

I am a visual storyteller. I've been making pictures for some 40 years. I travel the world in search of the right image. in the right light at the right time. You can reach me by phone at 505.280.4686, or by email at or For a quick look at my work please go to

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