US Catholic school faces outcry after students mock Native American veteran

  • Claire Bergin
  • (Updated )

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A disturbing new video on Youtube yesterday shows a mob of Catholic high school students in Donald Trump 'Make America Great Again' baseball caps surrounding an elderly Native American man, Nathan Philips, chanting "build the wall," and mocking him as he peacefully drums and chants.

Many of the students came from Covington Catholic High School, an all-boys high school in Park Hills, Kentucky which had sent a delegation to take part in the March for Life in Washington, DC.

Philips, an elder of Nebraska's Omaha tribe, was on his way to an annual ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery to honour Native American veterans.

In a separate video, Phillips wiped away tears as he said: "I heard them saying 'build that wall, build that wall'. These are indigenous lands, we're not supposed to have walls. I wish I could see that energy of that young mass of young men, put that energy into making this country, really, really great, helping those that are hungry."

He told The Washington Post that while he was drumming, he thought about his wife, Shoshana, who died of leukaemia nearly four years ago, and the threats that indigenous communities around the world are facing."

In a joint statement, the high school and Diocese of Covington condemned the actions of the students "towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general.. We extend our deepest apologies to Mr Phillips," the statement reads. "This behaviour is opposed to the Church's teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person."

"The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to an including expulsion."

Campaigners are calling for the school to take responsibility for "having created an environment for such a disgusting display of hatred and racism."

Alumni are calling on the local bishop to replace the school's principal and appoint a lay-led board to oversee reform. They quote an organiser of the Indigenous People's March who said it should be required that students take a class in Native American history.

Democratic US Congresswoman Deb Haaland, a member of New Mexico's Laguna Pueblo tribe, said on Twitter that Phillips had risked his life for his country, and that the students showed "blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance".

Tags: Covington Catholic High School, Nathan Philips, Native American,

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