The images were shocking to many across the internet — a group of MAGA-hat wearing teenagers surrounding Native American Nathan Phillips, taunting him as he played a traditional song and banged a drum.
Now, the internet has responded by raising thousands of dollars to support Phillips and a non-profit organization he leads called Native Youth Alliance. The response was meant to put a positive spin on an ugly incident that has gained viral attention and to help the Native American activist, who was caught in the middle of the incident.
Though the details were not all clear, reports indicated that the group of students from the private Covington Catholic High School got into a verbal tiff with a group of African-American protesters. Phillips and his group, who were attending the Indigenous People’s March at the same time the high school students were at the March for Life, then moved in to diffuse the situation, but ended up becoming a target of the students instead.
While the incident drew some very strong emotions, some tried to funnel their energy toward helping Phillips and the work he has done to promote peace and help develop Native American Youth. Across Twitter, many shared links to the organization and encouraged others to give.
The attention has apparently been appreciated by Phillips and his family. One commenter on social media said they contacted Nathan’s daughter following the incident and asked what they could do to help. She shared a link to the Native Youth Alliance and asked that anyone motivated by the incident consider making a donation.
I just learned that the organizers of the Indigenous Peoples March are short on their fundraising goal from a fundraiser they started a month ago.
Channel your anger at racism & compassion for our Native American sisters & brothers & donate what you canhttps://t.co/WRRa1jaD4A
— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@MuslimIQ) January 19, 2019
Even some other Native American charities are pitching in to help. The Native Youth Leadership Alliance — a similar-sounding, but different organization — released a statement condemning the incident and sharing a PayPal link to firstname.lastname@example.org. The organization noted that any contributions it might receive by mistake due to the similar name will be forwarded to the Native Youth Alliance instead.
Nathan Phillips has been a longtime peace activist, teaming up with his daughter last year to lead a four-day prayer walk in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline. He also has a number of videos and articles promoting the power of prayer — which some noted made the confrontation even more tragic given that it was students from a Catholic high school who confronted and taunted him.
This is Nathan Phillips, a Vietnam veteran and former head of the Native Youth Alliance.
— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) January 19, 2019
Others have started fundraisers in Nathan Phillips’ name, including one that has already raised more than $6,000 for the American Indian College Fund.