North America

School apologises after teens mock Native American Indians at a rally

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Teenagers in the US have been criticised for mocking a Native American Indian during a rally.

A Native American Indian man who was mocked by a group of US Catholic school students wearing pro-Donald Trump hats at a protest says the teenagers tried to perform the haka in front of him.

Marcus Frejo said he was among a small group of people remaining after the rally when the students began chanting slogans such as "Make America great" and then began doing the haka, a traditional New Zealand Maori dance.

Frejo said he felt they were mocking the dance and also heckling a couple of black men nearby.

The local Catholic diocese in the US state of Kentucky has apologised after videos emerged showing the boys' behaviour at the Indigenous Peoples' march outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.

The indigenous march coincided with the March for Life, which drew thousands of anti-abortion protesters, including a group from Covington Catholic High School.

Videos circulating online show a youth staring at and standing extremely close to Nathan Phillips, a 64-year-old Native American Indian man singing and playing a drum.

Other students, some wearing Covington clothing and many wearing "Make America Great Again" hats, surrounded them, chanting, laughing and jeering.

In a joint statement, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School apologised to Phillips.

Officials said they are investigating and will take "appropriate action, up to and including expulsion."

"We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips," the statement read.

"This behaviour is opposed to the Church's teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person."

According to the "Indian Country Today" website, Phillips is a Vietnam veteran.

"When I was there singing, I heard them saying 'Build that wall, build that wall,"' Phillips said, as he wiped away tears in a video posted on Instagram.

"This is indigenous lands. We're not supposed to have walls here. We never did."

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