Teens in ‘MAGA’ hats mock Native American at Lincoln Memorial



A teenager wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat stands in front of an elderly Native American singing and playing a drum in Washington

Raquel Perry, Reporter

A crowd of teenagers received backlash after videos emerged showing the students in ‘Make America Great Again’ hats mocking a Native American Vietnam veteran outside the Lincoln Memorial, during a rally in Washington D.C., on Friday, January 18.

The students, who were from a private, all-male Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, were in Washington D.C. for an anti-abortion rally called March For Life which coincided with the first annual Indigenous Peoples March. The Indigenous Peoples March was organized by a coalition of tribal councils, activists and youth leaders to raise awareness on issues facing their community, from police brutality to mental wellness to violence against women.

The veteran, Nathan Phillips, was attending the Indigenous Peoples March when he was surrounded by the teens who began mocking his singing and drumming. One student, in particular, was seen in footage standing uncomfortably close to Phillips with an unwavering smile on his face, staring at the older man as he played the drum and chanted.

Kaya Taitano, a student at the University of the District of Columbia, was present at the march and shot one of the videos. Kayla explained that the incident started when the teens got caught up in an exchange with four young African-Americans who had been preaching about the Bible nearby. The two groups started calling each other names and the interaction became heated so Phillips stepped in to try to diffuse the situation and chant what Kayla described as healing prayer.  She told CNN that the teens then started chanting things like “Build the wall” and “Trump 2020.”


The video prompted a torrent of outrage online. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School apologized to Phillips and officials said they are investigating and will take “appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.”

According to CNN, Phillips served between 1972 and 1976. He is a former director of the Native Youth Alliance and holds an annual ceremony honoring Native American veterans in Arlington National Cemetery. In a separate video uploaded to social media, Phillips wiped away tears as he described the incident.“I heard them saying ‘build that wall, build that wall’. These are indigenous lands, we’re not supposed to have walls,” he said. “I wish I could see that energy of that young mass of young men, put that energy into making this country, really, really great, helping those that are hungry.”