In this Friday, Jan. 18, 2019 image made from video provided by the Survival Media Agency, a teenager, center left, stands in front of an elderly Native American singing and playing a drum in Washington. Video of the encounter prompted a joint apology from a Roman Catholic diocese and a Catholic high school in Kentucky. (Survival Media Agency via AP)
A Roman Catholic diocese and a Catholic high school in Kentucky issued a joint apology Saturday after videos posted online showed a confrontation Friday between some of the school's students and some Native American adults after rallies near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
Footage posted to Instagram showed one student standing face-to-face with Nathan Phillips, a 64-year-old Omaha elder and Vietnam War veteran. Phillips was singing and playing the drum while the unidentified student stared him in the face.
Other students, some wearing Covington Catholic High School clothing, surrounded them, chanting, laughing and jeering.
“We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general, Jan. 18, after the March for Life, in Washington, D.C. We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips. This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person,” read the joint statement from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School.
In a separate Instagram video, Phillips is heard saying that he heard the students chanting “Build that wall, build that wall.”
"This is indigenous lands," Phillips says. "We're not supposed to have walls here. We never did."
Phillips was involved in a similar incident in 2015 where he said he was harassed by another group of students a Native American themed party, Detroit's Fox 2 reported at the time.
"They had little feathers on, I was just going to walk by," Phillips said. He said he was trying to teach the students about respecting Native Americans when the conversation became heated.
Phillips alleges that the students threw a beer can at him and hurled racial slurs. When asked why he engaged with the group to begin with, he said he felt an obligation.
"For me just to walk by and have a blind eye to it," he said, "something just didn't allow me to do it."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.