DAY 475 | DOW MICHAEL EDWARDS – Partner in the law firm of Irwin, Fritchie, Urquhart & Moore LLC and a member of the Mohawk Hunters Mardi Gras Indian tribe.
Dow Michael Edwards who is also known as “Spyboy Dow” is a
member of the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel, the American Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, the National Bar Association, the Louisiana State Bar Association, and the American Inns of Court. He was elected Chairman of the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board by the board who is appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court. He is also a member of the New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute. He served on the board of directors for the Boys & Girls Club of Southeast Louisiana and is the co- chair for the NOLA 180 – Langston Hughes Academy Charter School.
Dow is admitted to practice before all Louisiana state courts, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and the United States District Courts for the Eastern, Middle, and Western Districts of Louisiana.
During law school, Dow served as managing editor of the Southern University Law Review. He was also a member of the Moot Court Board and a member of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity. Dow served as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Pascal F. Calogero, Jr., Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court. Dow is also a former claim adjuster with Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and football player with the New England Patriots. Dow served as an Adjutant General Officer in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Corps.
Dow received his B.S. (1983) from Oklahoma Panhandle State University with a degree in Business Administration. He received his J.D. (2000) from Southern University Law Center, where he graduated cum laude.
Dow was selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® in the fields of Personal Injury Litigation and Railroad Law and in the Louisiana Super Lawyers in the field of Personal Injury Defense.** He was selected as a CityBusiness 2013 Leadership in Law honoree. Dow was nominated by clients to be a Member of the prestigious Claims & Litigation Management Alliance (CLM).
As a member of Mohawk Hunters, he holds one of its most important positions.
The prominent “Spyboy” comes from a family that understood the importance of the tradition. Every Mardi Gras his father would take him to watch the meeting of two tribes. To young eyes, it was scary and fascinating to see hatchet-welding men in feathered costumes challenging each other. Their bold display ignited a wish to see the Indians every Mardi Gras and to someday become a member of the tribe. As a child he thought the Indians were actually fighting; but later in life he came to learn that their performances are about pageantry and demonstrate what is required to successfully compete with other men.
Spyboy Dow joined the Mohawk Hunters because of his desire to be of service to the Mardi Gras Indian community. The tradition was negatively affected by some recovery efforts in the wake of the destruction of the city from hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. As the recovery of the city got under way, he became aware of a push by some involved in the rebuilding effort, to take away the cultural identity of the Mardi Gras Indian and second-line traditions. He feared the Mardi Gras Indians would not have a voice that would give them access to equal representation in influential circles. He asked Tyrone Casby, the tribe’s big chief, if he could join the group. He was welcomed and learned that being a part of the tribe meant that he would have to make his own suit.
Though Spyboy Dow did not have any bead-sewing skills, he had gained sartorial ability from his parents. His mother was a schoolteacher and a seamstress. From her he learned how to cut out patterns and to sew. His father repaired shoes and taught him how to work with leather. Chief Casby taught him to bead. In the quiet setting of the chief’s backyard, he provided his new Spyboy with a design on cardboard, some , beads, and thread. The chief showed him how to outline the patch and to fill it in with sequins and thread. Having grown up in Uptown New Orleans, Spyboy Dow adopted the traditional Uptown pictorial style of beading. Once his chief showed him how to “stick the crown,” he had the skills necessary to design his own suits. He selects the color schemes, the pictorial scenes and designs the symmetry of the suit. His ideas for images are derived from the historic relationship that Native American tribes had with escaped slaves and from the symbols that are sacred to the tribes such as thunderbirds, buffalos, eagles, and wolves.
For Spyboy Dow, making a suit has become a very spiritual process because it causes him to reflect on what his ancestors had to go through not only as enslaved people, but in the throes of segregation in city of New Orleans. “The reasons the Indians are out there is because black folks could not go out on St. Charles Avenue and participate in the Mardi Gras parades. The only thing they could do was light the pathways for the parades and to assist Caucasians as they had a good time on Mardi Gras. In an effort to give our community something to celebrate on Mardi Gras day, the Indians would go out along with the Baby Dolls. They gave the people an opportunity to have fun and enjoy themselves.”
Wearing a suit that carries the legacy of the past creates a mystical awakening. “When I put the suit on, there is an energy and spirituality that takes over. I can do things I didn’t think I could.” The rhythms from the drummers who accompany the Indians as they parade inundate his thoughts and his body moves in response. “I don’t know how to explain it. Me inside the suit is different than me outside the suit.” Another satisfaction comes when he meets other Indians and shows them his work. “You compare your work with their work and it is the thrill of competition and the agony of defeat.”
Being a spyboy and Mardi Gras Indian outshines all his other accomplishments. “I have done a lot of things in my life. I have played college football and participated in national championships in track and field. I have played with the NFL. I have been an officer in the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States military. I am a lawyer. But there is no more glorious feeling than I felt the first time and every time since I put on my suit on Mardi Gras day. It is one of the most rewarding things that I have ever done.”
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