Covington Catholic high school student protest at Washington rally
Covington Catholic High School students surrounded, intimidated and chanted over Native Americans singing about indigenous peoples’ strength and spirit, according to interviews with attendees of the inaugural Indigenous Peoples March in Washington, D.C.
One video posted on social media showed the man walking through a crowd and stopping in front of one of the students.
The school and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington issued a joint statement Saturday afternoon after millions viewed videos of the imbroglio and hundreds if not thousands denounced the private, all-boys school. The school has traditionally sent students to D.C. for the annual March for Life.
The students’ focus was largely centered on Nathan Phillips, an Omaha tribe elder, who rhythmically beat a drum as a young man in a “Make America Great Again” cap stood nearby and stared at him.
Chase Iron Eyes, a spokesman for the Indigenous Peoples March and an attorney for the Lakota People’s Law Project, said by phone Saturday that Phillips initially approached the students in an attempt to defuse the situation.
But he was quickly swarmed.
Iron Eyes did not see any adults among the students.
Kaya Taitano, a Chamoru activist from Guam, captured video of Phillips speaking afterward.
He tells Taitano and others that he heard chants of “build that wall, build that wall,” from the students.
“This is indigenous lands. We’re not supposed to have walls here. We never did for millennia, before anyone else came here, we never had walls, we never had a prison. Iron Eyes told The Enquirer that the inaugural march was intended in part to condemn the ongoing federal government shutdown. His wife has been working without pay as a clinical director on a reservation. And he spoke about the adverse effect on many indigenous people.
He also criticized President Donald Trump for “recently mocking our genocide” in a tweet he made about Bighorn and Wounded Knee and Trump’s use of “Pocahontas,” which Iron Eyes called a slur to indigenous women.
“Indigenous nations deserve dignity,” he said.
Iron Eyes estimated about 50 young people accosted Phillips and about five other Native Americans performing a closing ceremony.
He also heard them chant “build the wall.”
“I think they should be required to take Native American Studies 101,” he said. “They should learn some true history of the original civilizers of this land. They are also denied their true history. These are kids, I was looking for an adult, where is the adult here?”