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Native Elder: Student Should Say Sorry, but 'I Forgive Him'

Nathan Phillips appears on 'Today' the day after Covington teen Nick Sandmann
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 24, 2019 10:05 AM CST

(Newser) – Wednesday was Nick Sandmann's day to appear on the Today show; today was Nathan Phillips'. The Native American elder, who's been caught in the middle of a maelstrom after his interaction with the Covington Catholic High School student at the Lincoln Memorial over the weekend, had his moment with Savannah Guthrie on Thursday morning, and he says that while he remains angry, "I still have that forgiveness in my heart for those students," per USA Today. Phillips, who told Guthrie he started received death threats once Covington students started reporting their own, says he thinks Sandmann should say he's sorry for standing nose-to-nose with him while he played his drum in DC, and that the sorry shouldn't be directed only toward him. "I'd be, like, way down on the list of ... people he needs to apologize to," Phillips said, though he added, "I forgive him."

Phillips told Guthrie he didn't think Sandmann's statement was genuine and that it felt coached; he says the same for Sandmann's appearance on Today, using the terms "insincerity" and "lack of responsibility" to describe it. He cites the "mocking" and tomahawk chops that the Covington students were seen doing in now-viral video and notes that "there's a lot of times [Sandmann] could've walked away." When Guthrie threw that same question back at him—whether he himself should've walked away—Phillips said, "That's what I was trying to do." He also doubled down on his original claim that he'd heard people chanting, "Build the wall," though so far no video evidence has emerged of that. Still, Phillips told Guthrie he'd be open to meeting with both Covington students and the chaperones who accompanied them to DC. (Sandmann now says he wishes he had walked away.)

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