Native American: As Students Mocked Me, I Thought of Wife

Nathan Phillips says he realized things were getting ugly
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 20, 2019 6:32 AM CST

(Newser) – A Native American man says he was thinking about his deceased wife and the struggles faced by indigenous communities while he was being taunted by a group of high school students at the end of a rally in Washington on Friday. Nathan Phillips told the Washington Post that he initially felt nervous when the teens, who had been at the March for Life, approached him as the Indigenous Peoples March wound down. "It was getting ugly," says Phillips, who says he decided to try to leave and head to the nearby Lincoln Memorial to finish his song. "I started going that way, and that guy in the hat stood in my way and we were at an impasse. He just blocked my way and wouldn't allow me to retreat."

And so Phillips decided to keep singing and drumming while thinking of his wife, Shoshana, whom he lost to bone marrow cancer almost four years ago. Other students from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky, surrounded them, laughing and shouting. But Phillips kept beating his drum, reports the AP. He says he "felt like the spirit was talking through me." In a joint statement to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School apologized to Phillips, an Omaha elder and Vietnam veteran. Officials say the students' behavior is opposed to the church's teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person. Church officials say they are investigating and will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.

(Read more Native Americans stories.)

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