G U A R D I A N S   I N S T I T U T E

CULTURE with a conscience!

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The Late Big Chief Donald Harrison, Sr. (1933-1998) is remembered as one of the legends of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian tradition. Well-read in philosophy, history and theology, he loved acquiring knowledge, sports, jazz and the Mardi Gras Indian tradition. He was as comfortable at an Indian practice as he was lecturing at Yale University. He took the Mardi Gras Indian Tradition around the world. It was Harrison’s love for the Mardi Gras Indian tradition, sports, jazz, history but most of all, his love for reading that prompted his wife of 40 years to start the Guardians Institute.

Herreast J. Harrison, MA, decided to open the institute in honor of her late husband and his many passions. Having operated several day care centers in New Orleans’ 9th Ward, Mrs. Harrison is intrinsically aware of the need for additional resources for children. Mrs. Harrison and the Big Chief also raised four children who are highly regarded in their various professions. She and Donald instilled in their children as well as thousands of others, the importance of education, art, music and tradition.

Big Chief Donald Harrison, Sr.
January 27, 1933 - December 1, 1998

Herreast J Harrison
Co-Founder and Program Director

Guardians Institute is a 501c3 started in 2006 after the failure of New Orleans’ levees left the area devastated. With New Orleans’ indigenous cultural arts of Jazz, Mardi Gras Indians, second line clubs and brass bands left hanging in the balance, Mrs. Harrison decided that the time had come for her to put her plan into action. 

Mrs. Harrison has donated land she owns in the city’s 9thWard for the construction of the facility she hopes one day will house a museum/gallery, class rooms, a library, sports and recreation space as well as a performance space. A testimony to Mrs. Harrison’s will is the fact that she has already began classes and a youth book club without the benefit of major funding and without a permanent facility. The facility will be a UNESCO site. Her passions are as deep as her late husband’s and she is determined to see Guardians Institute reach its full potential with the help of generous supporters. 

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