Drum-Banging Indian Nathan Phillips Was in the News 4 Years Ago, Telling an Eerily Similar Story


We’d hardly just begun our Two Minutes Hate of the MAGA-hat wearing teens from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky when it turns out things weren’t at all as they had originally seemed.

For one, longer cell phone videos showed that the drum-banging Native American activist and tribal elder Nathan Phillips had actually originated contact with the teens in their Make America Great Again gear during the March for Life in Washington on Friday in a tense scene near the Lincoln Memorial.

“In the midst of our cheers, we were approached by a group of adults led by Nathan Phillips, with Phillips beating his drum,” one of the students said in a statement to the media. “They forced their way into the center of our group. We initially thought this was a cultural display since he was beating along to our cheers and so we clapped to the beat.

“However, after multiple minutes of Mr. Phillips beating his drum directly in the face of my friend (mere centimeters from his nose), we became confused and started wondering what was happening. It was not until later that we discovered they would incriminate us as a publicity stunt,” he added.

And, it turns out, the biggest instigators on the scene turned out to be members of the crackpot Black Hebrew Israelite movement, who allegedly insulted both the teenagers — one of them says the “Israelites” called them  “racists,” ″bigots,” ″white crackers” and “incest kids” — and the Native Americans, according to The Associated Press.

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But what about Phillips’ claims that the students were saying racist things during the incident?

“They were making remarks to each other … (such as) ‘In my state those Indians are nothing but a bunch of drunks.’ How do I report that?” Phillips claimed, according to the AP. “These young people were just roughshodding through our space, like what’s been going on for 500 years here — just walking through our territories, feeling like ‘this is ours.’”

Phillips also claimed he heard chants saying, “Build that wall” and people telling him to “go back to the reservation.”

These are indeed disturbing allegations. One problem is that they can’t be proven, and there are multiple videos of the encounter.

Do you think there's more to this story than the media's been reporting?

Another problem is that Phillips made nearly identical allegations nearly four years ago in a case involving students from Eastern Michigan University.

Take this story from WJBK-TV in Detroit from April of 2015 and see if it sounds familiar to you.

“An Ypsilanti man says he was trying to teach a few students dressed in American Indian theme party about respecting Native Americans,” the station reported.

“Not long afterward, Nathan Phillips said that an interaction with party-goers and students turned ugly.”

According to Phillips, while out on an afternoon walk, he spotted EMU students dressed in Native American garb.

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“They had little feathers on, I was just going to walk by,” Phillips said. “A group of them said ‘Come on over, come here.'”

After he walked over, he says he found dozens of students dressed up as Native Americans for a theme party.

“They had their face painted,” Phillips said. “I said what the heck is going on here. ‘Oh we are honoring you.’ I said, no you are not honoring me.

“Then started whooping and hollering,” he added. “I said that wasn’t honoring, that was racist. Then at that time, it really got ugly.”

“Ugly” included racial slurs and a beer can hurled at him.

“(They said) ‘Go back to the reservation, you blank Indian,'” Phillips said.

Phillips called police, but when they arrived, they didn’t find any evidence of what he says happened.

“By the time police got there, it was like there was no party there at all,” Phillips said.

Check out his interview with MLive here.

Now, look at the present story. He says there were slurs hurled at him and chants of “build that wall, build that wall.”

At least on the last count, The Washington Post concedes none of that could be heard on the audio taken of the incident. He also claims he was blocked from going to the Lincoln Memorial by one of the teens; definitive evidence he was blocked is also thus far absent.

And then there was the similarity of language.

“It was getting ugly, and I was thinking: ‘I’ve got to find myself an exit out of this situation and finish my song at the Lincoln Memorial,’” Phillips said. “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.”

Yes, it was “getting ugly” and people were telling him to “go back to the reservation” — just like what happened four years ago. Again he says he was physically accosted, even though no evidence of this seems to have existed. And then as now, the mere appearance of a story was enough to cause outrage, as if those involved were automatically guilty.

I’m certainly not going to sit here and say that two very similar racist incidents couldn’t have happened to the same Native American individual. Racists aren’t exactly known to be the most creative individuals in the world, after all.

However, what are the odds?

Nearest I can tell, the Eastern Michigan story ends there. No charges, no discipline taken against students, nothing. Even though a raucous party of students dressed in Native American garb hurled racial slurs and a beer at Nathan Phillips, nobody seems to have found enough evidence to do anything about it.

Now, Phillips has come forward with an amazingly similar story that video taken from the scene doesn’t seem to corroborate.

But images like this are making Phillips famous again.

Given the fact that the liberal and even mainstream media already branded these kids as racists, I don’t think it’s improper to question Phillips’ history and the fact he’s made these allegations before, particularly in light of footage and a history that makes his version of events seem a lot less credible.

And that’s bad news for the media today.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture