Nathan Phillips Wants Summit With Pope Francis Over Covington Catholic Students Incident

Native American activist Nathan Phillips wants to meet with Pope Francis following the incident with Covington Catholic High School students from Kentucky whom Phillips confronted last Friday in Washington, D.C. in an incident that went viral over the weekend. Phillips garnered national attention when he peddled a false story of being threatened by the boys when it turned out Phillips had approached the boys, banging a drum and chanting, positioning himself mere inches in front of one boy who stood silently and did not move, except to smile.

Phillips’ request to meet Francis was made in a statement issued Tuesday as part of his response to the controversy.

Phillips, in collaboration with the Indigenous Peoples March and the Lakota People’s Law Project, is also seeking a meeting with Vatican officials—ideally Pope Francis himself, who has apologized to American Indians for the “grave sins of colonialism”—to discuss what role the Church might be willing to play in reconciling the Catholic community worldwide with Indigenous people.

“We feel that there is a distinct lack of understanding and appreciation of Native peoples and traditions worldwide. It’s time to address the indecency of culturally appropriating our ritual movements and songs for the enjoyment of non-Native peoples,” said Phillips.

Phillips might find a friendly audience as the Covington Diocese released a statement Saturday condemning their own students to the world before the Diocese had investigated. The statement was posted by the neighboring Cincinnati Archdiocese.

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