A Catholic archdiocese outside Cincinnati is investigating the actions of some of its high school students during the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington Friday.
Some students wearing Make America Great Again hats and clothing surrounded and taunted a Native American troupe as it performed the "American Indian Movement" song about strength and courage. It's not clear which of those young people surrounding the Native Americans are students of Covington Catholic High School in Covington, Kentucky.
But the Diocese of Covington criticized any students who participated in the action, which broke out as a group from the school was in Washington for the anti-abortion event March for Life.
Its statement, forwarded by archdiocese spokeswoman Laura Keener, singled out Native American leader Nathan Phillips, a Vietnam War veteran and Omaha elder. In social media videos of the incident Phillips can be seen singing as a male taunts him smilingly and gets close to his face.
The student was not identified. "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.," the archdiocese's statement reads. "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."
The archdiocese said the matter was under investigation and students could be expelled. During the incident some young people appeared to surround Native Americans and others started to jump and chant.
Phillips told NBC News that some of the young people surrounding him chanted support for President Trump's proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
"Chants of 'Build the wall' and other things that were even worse," he said as he stood in the rain in Washington. "They were brought up to believe I’m less than human."
The elder said he's getting hateful phone calls and is afraid to answer his phone in the wake of the incident. "I’m still trying to process it," Phillips said. "Who they were, who those young folks were, where they came from and who’s bringing them up. Where were the chaperones? How did this come to this point?"