Who is Nathan Phillips?

Screenshot/YouTube

If America has confirmed anything about itself since the Lincoln Memorial incident between the Covington Catholic high school boys, the Native American drum enthusiast, and the Black Hebrew Israelite hate posse, it is this – that outrage and narrative are virtues, while facts and context are just obstacles.

This whole story was the media version of a microwaveable meal. It came pre-packaged, ready-made. You didn't even have to add water. The victim hierarchy is so perfectly arranged, it almost seems choreographed. At the very top of the hierarchy is Nathan Phillips, the 64-year-old Native American leader. At the very bottom of the hierarchy are the white, male, privileged, bratty, Catholic school kids from Kentucky. The "journalists" manning the desks over the weekend could've written this story with their outraged eyes closed, and most of them apparently did. Our frantic news cycle won't wait for context. So we get headline gems like this from Vox: "White students in MAGA gear crashed the Indigenous Peoples March and harassed participants."

For the handful of people out there who do still care about old-fashioned things like facts and context, this segment is for you. Who is Nathan Phillips, the personal-space drummer in this drama?

Phillips is a member of the Omaha tribe, born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska. He says he was five-years-old when he was, "taken away from my family and put in foster care." He bounced around several homes and was finally raised by a white family, whom he says was abusive, until he was 17.

He started working construction jobs, then joined the Marines. Almost every media outlet describes Phillips as a Vietnam veteran. But one outlet, Indian Country Today, describes him as a "Vietnam-era veteran" which seems to imply he may have served, just not physically in Vietnam. This is an important distinction because Phillips has said how hard it was to be a veteran returning to the U.S. during the Vietnam era. He says, "People called me a baby killer and a hippie girl spit on me." Indian Country Today noted that this incident happened when Phillips was in uniform, but not when he was returning home from combat. We reached out to the journalist who wrote the story for clarification, and we are waiting to hear back.



Nathan Phillips is a liar youtu.be


For several years, Phillips has led an annual ceremony honoring Native American war veterans at Arlington National Cemetery.

After he left the Marines, Phillips struggled with alcoholism and was "in and out of jail." In 1990, he met Shoshana Konstant, a former middle school teacher. She became his companion and they traveled around the U.S., protesting on behalf of American Indians being displaced from their homelands.

In 1994, the couple settled in Washington DC after their truck broke down and caught fire during a demonstration in front of the White House. While there, Phillips co-founded the Native Youth Alliance. The nonprofit group "works to ensure that traditional culture and spiritual ways continue for the coming generations." He had virtually no financial support for the organization. He worked odd jobs and construction when he could, but said his "personal dreams usually take precedence over the American dream."

In 1999 and again in 2000, he camped in a teepee by the Washington Monument for the entire month of November with his companion Shoshana, their toddler son, and baby daughter. He did it to "remind people that a lot of American Indians don't have too much to be thankful for." Officially, he did it to raise awareness for his Native Youth Alliance.

RELATED: MEDIA MALPRACTICE: The Covington Catholic teens would make Martin Luther King Jr. proud

In a profile written about him in 2000, the Omaha World Herald said, "Privately, another tribal leader said Phillips is regarded back in Nebraska as a well-intentioned brother struggling to cope with a troubled childhood. The leader said the Omaha Tribe generally avoids the type of activism Phillips prefers."

After Shoshana was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer, Phillips moved the family to Ypsilanti, Michigan where she could get treatments at a local university. In 2012, a documentary short was made about Phillips and Shoshana called Between Earth and Sky. Three years later, the cancer took Shoshana's life.

While still living in Michigan in 2015, Phillips decided to go for an afternoon stroll one Saturday and he came across a group of "30 to 40" students from Eastern Michigan University having a Native American-themed party in their back yard. He says they wore body paint and feathers, and summoned him over to the fence. He says when he questioned their choice of activity, they said that they were honoring him. He replied, "No, you are not honoring me. That wasn't honoring. That was racist."

The students said, "Go back to the reservation, you blank Indian."

He says a student threw a full beer can at him and that it would've hit him in the head, but he backed up in time and it hit his chest.

Phillips says he called the police but by the time they got there, the party was deserted. At the time, Eastern Michigan University said it conducted an investigation, but no media outlets seemed to report on the university's conclusion. We reached out to EMU to find out if their investigation corroborated Phillips' accusations of verbal and physical assault. We are waiting to hear back from EMU.

Today, Phillips is an Omaha tribe elder and a "keeper of a sacred pipe." The sacred pipe is revered as a holy object, and smoking it

is used as a major way of communicating between humans and sacred beings. It's smoked in personal prayer and during collective rituals.

In 2016 and 2017, Phillips was on the front line (with his 17-year-old daughter) of the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline across Sioux lands in South Dakota.

Last Friday, Phillips was in Washington DC to participate in the inaugural Indigenous Peoples March. The March was organized as a continuation of the 2016-2017 Dakota Pipeline demonstrations. It is organized by the "Indigenous People's Movement," an international grassroots initiative aimed at increasing awareness of "voter suppression, divided families by walls and borders, an environmental holocaust, sex and human trafficking, and police/military brutality."

Phillips knew exactly what he was doing on Friday because he has been traveling the country, agitating for his cause for almost 30 years.

After telling The Washington Post that he was "mobbed" by the Covington students, Phillips changed his tune yesterday, saying he had approached the crowd to intervene because of racial tensions between the Covington students and the black Hebrew Israelites group. Phillips said the tension "was coming to a boiling point. I stepped in between to pray."

Phillips expounded further in the Detroit Free Press saying:

They [the Covington boys] witnessed these individuals [the Black Hebrew Israelites group] on their soapbox saying what they had to say. They didn't agree with it and got offended. They were in the process of attacking these four black individuals. I was there and I was witnessing all of this… as this kept on going on and escalating, it just got to a point where you do something or you walk away, you know?

You see something that is wrong and you're faced with that choice of right or wrong. There was that moment when I realized I've put myself between beast and prey. These young men were beastly and these old black individuals was their prey, and I stood in between them and so they needed their pounds of flesh and they were looking at me for that. It was ugly, what these kids were involved in. It was racism. It was hatred. It was scary. I mean, if you go back and look at the lynchings that was done (in America) and you'd see the faces on the people. The glee and the hatred in their faces, that's what these faces looked like.

The Black Israelites, they were saying some harsh things, but some of it was true, too. These young, white American kids who were being taught in their Catholic school, their doctrine, their truth, and when they found out there's more truth out there than what they're being taught, they were offended, they were insulted, they were scared, and that's how they responded. One thing that I was taught in my Marine Corps training is that a scared man will kill you. And that's what these boys were. They were scared.

On Sunday, he also told a reporter for Indian Country Today:

I'm angry with those instructors, the chaperones and tutors whose children's lives were in their hands. That was their job, that wasn't my job to do… they were getting paid to take care of those children to act and for them to be allowed to behave that way. It is in my mind a fire-able offense. They've aligned those children to take the wrong path and they have a bright future to live. You know, if that was my child, I would not be happy with the school officials right now to allow my child to behave that way. I don't care if my child is that way. When he's out in public, he'd better behave.

I'm still scared. I'm still feeling vulnerable. But I'm not gonna back down.

This Lincoln Memorial incident is complex, but the Nathan Phillips part is pretty simple. This wasn't a case of punk teenagers accosting a poor Native American veteran. Phillips knew exactly what he was doing on Friday because he has been traveling the country, agitating for his cause for almost 30 years. This is what he does. This is his identity. And these days, nothing stands in the way of personal identity – especially not some white kid in a MAGA hat.

Would Glenn make a better bounty hunter or a Jedi? You'll have to find out in a new episode of the Beltway Banthas Podcast, where Glenn goes deep on Star Wars with host Stephen Kent. In this 45 minute discussion, Stephen and Glenn explore the political themes of the Star Wars franchise, Darth Vader's redemption from Return of the Jedi, Glenn's earliest memories of seeing the films and even debate elements of the latest Star Wars films.

If you enjoy the pop culture and nerdy discussions that Glenn, Pat and Stu get into on the radio show, you'll love this! After you're through, you can also check out Stu Burguiere's appearance on Beltway Banthas to talk Star Wars. You can find that here.


It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


https://shop.tomsteyer.com/collections/frontpage/products/tom-2020-pattern-tee


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…

https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/bumper-stickers/products/yanggang-decal


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/apparel/products/math-hat


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


https://store.johndelaney.com/products/dogs-for-delaney-collar


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


https://store.michaelbennet.com/michael-bennet-for-america-natural-canvas-tote/


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


https://store.jayinslee.com/elvis-the-elves-the-mystery-of-the-melting-snow-by-jay-inslee/


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


https://shop.stevebullock.com/collections/apparel/products/emoji-t-shirt


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


https://store.peteforamerica.com/collections/apparel/products/boot-edge-edge-t-shirt


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


https://store.julianforthefuture.com/julian-castro-loteria-card-white-tee/


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


https://store.marianne2020.com/collections/signs/products/love-rally-sign


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…


https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/apparel/products/impolite-arrogant-women-make-history-unisex-t-shirt

-AND-

https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/drinkware/products/strong-american-unions-mug


Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


https://store.kamalaharris.org/poster-for-the-people/


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/artists-for-bernie-coaches-jacket


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/feel-the-bern-fanny-pack


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


https://store.joebiden.com/collections/apparel/products/biden-polo-womens-fit


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.