Student in 'MAGA' hat defends his actions after Native American confrontation video sparks anger

A student whose staredown with an elderly Native American protester sparked widespread anger has said he did nothing to provoke the man in the videotaped confrontation.

Nick Sandmann and his schoolmates are seen in the video smiling and chanting while the Native American was drumming in front of him.

The teenager identified himself as the student standing close to Nathan Phillips, a 64-year-old Native American man, as two marches took place at the same time in Washington last week.

The Indigenous Peoples March in Washington on Friday coincided with the March for Life, which drew thousands of anti-abortion protesters, including a group from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills.

The Indigenous Peoples March in Washington on Friday. Credit: AP

"I am being called every name in the book, including a racist, and I will not stand for this mob-like character assassination of my family’s name," wrote Mr Sandmann, who added he and his parents have received death threats since video of Friday’s confrontation emerged.

Both Mr Sandmann and Mr Phillips say they were trying to defuse tensions which were rising among three groups on a day Washington hosted the marches.

Other students appeared to be laughing at the drummer, and at least one could be seen on video doing a tomahawk chop.

Despite the teen saying he was "not intentionally making faces at the protester", his school, The Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington, apologised for the incident on Saturday, saying "this behaviour is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person".

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

Videos emerged showing students from the Catholic boys’ high school mocking Native Americans outside the Lincoln Memorial. Credit: AP

Mr Sandmann said he heard no student sing anything beyond school spirit chants, and he had not even been aware of the Native American group until Mr Phillips approached him.

"The protester everyone has seen in the video began playing his drum as he waded into the crowd, which parted for him. I did not see anyone try to block his path," Mr Sandmann wrote.

"He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face.

The young man said one of the Native American protesters yelled at them that they "stole our land" and they should "go back to Europe," but also said he never spoke to or interacted with Mr Phillips.

Meanwhile the 64-year-old Native American insisted he wasn't provoked during the encounter.

He said: "Here in America we are supposed to be able to express ourselves."

"I am tired of seeing my country, this country, falling apart," Mr Phillips added.

The incident sparked a media furore Credit: AP

The schoolboy confirmed the incident ended when the buses arrived and his teacher told him it was time to leave.

Though many commenting on the internet were taken back by Mr Sandmann staring at Mr Philipps, the teen said: "I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation".

Mr Sandmann said he has provided a copy of his statement to the diocese and said: "I stand ready and willing to cooperate with any investigation they are conducting."