Native American Congresswoman Condemns White Teens Who Taunted an Omaha Elder

“A signal of how common decency has decayed under this administration.”

Teenaged boys surrounded Nathan Phillips (right) as he sang in Washington, DC, on Friday. KC NOLAND/YouTube

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Footage of white teenagers taunting a Native American man in Washington, DC, has sparked outrage and prompted a Native American member of Congress to condemn their “display of blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance.”

A video of the incident, which occurred yesterday, shows a large group of boys, almost entirely white, some wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, surrounding and mocking a man as he sings and drums as part of the Indigenous Peoples March. Indian Country News identified the man as Nathan Phillips, an Omaha elder and Vietnam Veteran.

One boy stood directly in front of Phillips, smirking as those around him chanted and made “tomahawk chops” with their hands. The teens were reportedly in Washington, DC, to attend the March for Life as part of a trip sponsored by their school, Covington Catholic High School, in Park Hills, Kentucky.

Speaking after the incident, Shilling, looking shaken, recounted what had happened: “I heard them saying, ‘Build that wall, build that wall.’ You know, this is indigenous lands. We’re not supposed to have walls here; we never did.” He said he wished that the “mass of young men” who taunted him would “put that energy into making this country really great.”

Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), who recently took her seat as one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress, condemned the boys’ behavior and linked it to President Donald Trump: 

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covingtion, which operates the boys’ school, issued a statement saying was looking into the incident. 

Update: In a statement to the Enquirer, the diocese condemned the boys’ actions and apologized to Phillips. “The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion,” it said.

 

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest