Teen wearing MAGA hat confronts elder at First Indigenous Peoples March, sparking controversy

A video of a Native American elder drumming and singing at the First Indigenous Peoples March and a young white teen wearing a MAGA hat standing in front of him with a smirk on his face swept across the internet on Fri. Jan.18.

The elder was identified as Nathan Phillips, a 64-year-old veteran of the US Marines from the Omaha tribe. The teen was Nick Sandmann, a junior at the Covington Catholic School in Kentucky.

The initial video showed Sandmann staring down Phillips while he drummed and chanted, but another video surfaced over the weekend which highlights what transpired earlier between the students and small group of Black Hebrew Israelites, who were also present at the Lincoln Memorial.

Sandmann, in his interview with The Today Show, said that the Black Hebrew Israelites started shouting a bunch of homophobic, racist, and derogatory comments at him and his schoolmates.
“I heard them call us incest kids, bigots, racists. They called us f*****s,” said Sandmann.

In an interview with CNN, Phillips had a different opinion. He said that he thought he was trying to calm the situation. When asked what he felt like he was witnessing he replied “That’s what it
was [racism] because the folks that were having their moment there, they were say- ing things that I don’t know if I agreed with them or not, but some of them where educational, and it was the
truth, and it was history about religious views and ideologies, but these other folks, the
young students, they couldn’t see it.

“They had one point of view, it seemed and that was the only point of view that was worthwhile. And that’s now what I was feeling.” Sandmann denied these charges of racism against him and his classmates. “We’re a catholic school, and [racism’s] not tolerated. None of my classmates
are racist people,” said Sandmann.

Phillips said some people in the group chanted “Buildthat wall”. This was affirmed by another witness, Jon Stegenga, a photo journal- ist, who said he also heard “Trump 2020”. Those chants
were not audible in videos reviewed by CNN, although several eyewitnesses, includ- ing Kaya Taitano who shot the video, confirmed that “Build that wall” chants were said.

Michele Sterner, an Academic Counselor at SMSU who is also Native American, said that “It’s an interesting piece because it shows that they (students) don’t have a clue of who Mr. Phillips is, they don’t know [he’s] Native American, they don’t understand when they say build the wall. People have said that the students didn’t say ‘build the wall’, but Mr. Phillips said that they did and I don’t think he has a reason to make that up.”

I have seen multiple videos showing the different angles of the incident between all parties and I
don’t think we will never know what fully happened on that day, as everyone one is claiming that they were taunted first.

With that being said, I don’t know what is more disturbing; the young men standing in front of Phillips, including Sandmann with a smirk on his face, or the “build the wall” chants. There’s also the fact that one of the teens went to the extent of taking his shirt off and imitated Haka, an indigenous Maori war dance.

These actions make me ask myself what exactly are they teaching these young men at Covington Catholic high school? Where were the chaperones when all this was happening? Why were the boys wearing MAGA hats for the March For Life? Everyone has the right to their own political views and opinions, but my issue is why they wore MAGA hats to the March For Life.

With everything that went on in this video, from the smirk; dance; chants; and people defending them, speaks volumes of how blind people still are to racism and ignorance in this country.

Sandmann defending himself saying him and his friends were called racist made me realize that white people are more concerned with being called racist than trying to understand why they
were called that.