Lawmaker Condemns MAGA-Hatted Teens Who Appeared to Harass Native Elder at Indigenous Peoples March: 'Blatant Hate, Disrespect'

Democratic Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) condemned a young group of MAGA-hatted students who appeared to be ridiculing a Native American elder at an Indigenous Peoples March in Washington D.C. on Friday.

A video of the incident—which showed dozens of young men wearing red "Make America Great Again" hats and other Trump apparel—went viral on Twitter this morning, with over two million views just hours after it was posted. In the clip, the teens can be seen surrounding and mocking a Native American elder as he chanted and beat a drum.

"This Veteran put his life on the line for our country," Haaland tweeted alongside the video. "The students' display of blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance is a signal of how common decency has decayed under this administration. Heartbreaking."

A longer video of the incident, released later, showed the MAGA-hatted teens themselves being harrassed by members of a group called the Black Hebrew Israelites before the teens' apparent confrontation with the Native American Elder. One of the teens, Nick Sandmann, offered a statement explaining the incident, saying he intended no disrespect for the man; he condemned the "misinformation and outright lies" conveyed in early media reports.

Indian Country Today newspaper identified the Native American man in the video as Omaha elder Nathan Phillips, a Vietnam veteran and former director of the non-profit organization Native Youth Alliance. Phillips is also reportedly the keeper of a secret pipe and annually hosts a ceremony honoring Native American veterans in Arlington, Virginia.

In an interview, posted to Twitter by user @ka_ya11, Phillips confirmed he heard the boys yelling "build that wall, build that wall" as he chanted and drummed. "This is indigenous lands. We're not supposed to have walls here, we never did, for millennium before anybody else came here. We never had walls," he said. "We always took care of our elders, we took care of our children. We always provided for them. We taught them right from wrong.

Phillips added that he hoped that the group of teens, later identified as Kentucky high school students visiting Washington D.C., could channel their "energy" into actually "making this country really really great."

In 2015, Phillips experienced racial harassment when he confronted a group of Eastern Michigan University party-goers dressed in stereotypical Indian-American attire, he said. "They had little feathers on, I was just going to walk by," Phillips told Fox 2 News at the time. "A group of them said 'Come on over, come here.'"

After attempting to educate the students about racial appropriation, Phillips was mocked, taunted and harassed by the group. One of the individuals even threw a beer can at the Native American leader.

Haaland did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for further comment. Phillips was unable to be reached for comment.

Update 1/24; 5:45 p.m.: This story has been updated to include teen Nick Sandmann's statement about the incident, and to reflect that the longer version of the video appeared to contradict the early reports.