A diocese in Kentucky is looking into videos that show youths, possibly from the diocese’s all-male high school, mocking Native Americans at a rally in Washington.
Laura Keener of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington said Saturday it regrets the incident and is investigating but didn’t comment further.
The Indigenous Peoples March in Washington on Friday coincided with the March for Life, which drew thousands of anti-abortion protesters, including a group from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills.
Videos circulating online show a youth staring at and standing extremely close to an elderly Native American who was singing and playing a drum. Other youths, some wearing clothing with Covington logos, surrounded them, laughing and shouting. Many of the youths were also wearing “Make America Great Again” hats.
The “Indian Country Today” website identified the elderly man as Nathan Phillips, an Omaha elder and Vietnam veteran who holds an annual ceremony honouring Native American veterans at Arlington National Cemetery.
State Rep. Ruth Buffalo, a North Dakota state lawmaker and member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, said she was saddened to see students showing disrespect to an elder who is also a U.S. military veteran at what was supposed to be a celebration of all cultures.
“The behaviour shown in that video is just a snapshot of what indigenous people have faced and are continuing to face,” Buffalo said.
She said she hoped it would lead to some kind of meeting with the students to provide education on issues facing Native Americans.
Thank you to @VinceSchilling of @IndianCountry and many others who identified the proud Native man who is being harassed. He is Mr. Nathan Phillips. I’m reposting this video from “ka_ya11” on IG. This man’s words pierce my heart. The grace. The wisdom. The hope. — Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 19, 2019
U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico sharply criticized what she called a display of “blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance.”
“This Veteran put his life on the line for our country,” she tweeted Saturday. “Heartbreaking.”