COVINGTON, Kentucky — Marcus Frejo, a member of the Pawnee and Seminole tribes who is also known as Chief Quese Imc, said he had been a part of a march and was among a small group of people remaining after the rally when the boisterous students began chanting slogans such as “Make America great” and then began doing the haka, a traditional Maori dance.

In a phone interview, Frejo told The Associated Press he felt they were mocking the dance and also heckling a couple of black men nearby. He approached the group with Phillips to defuse the situation, joining him in singing the anthem from the American Indian Movement and beating out the tempo on hand drums.

Although he feared a mob mentality that could turn ugly, Frejo said he was at peace singing among the scorn and he briefly felt something special happen as they repeatedly sang the tune.

“They went from mocking us and laughing at us to singing with us. I heard it three times,” Frejo said. “That spirit moved through us, that drum, and it slowly started to move through some of those youths.”

Eventually a calm fell over the group of students and they broke up and walked away.

A Native American man says he was thinking about his deceased wife and the struggles faced by indigenous communities while he was being taunted by a group of high school students after a rally in Washington.

Nathan Phillips told The Washington Post that when a student stood in front of him Friday near the Lincoln Memorial, he decided to keep singing and drumming. Other students from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky, surrounded them, laughing and shouting.

But Phillips kept beating his drum. He says he “felt like the spirit was talking through me.”

School and church officials have apologized to Phillips, an Omaha elder and Vietnam veteran who had attended the Indigenous Peoples March. The march coincided with the annual March for Life, an anti-abortion rally attended by the students.

A Catholic diocese in Kentucky is condemning the actions of some students from its all-male high school mocking a Native American man after the rally.

In a joint statement to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School apologized to Nathan Phillips, an Omaha elder and Vietnam veteran who attended the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington on Friday. The march coincided with the annual March for Life, an anti-abortion rally attended by some students at Covington Catholic High School in northern Kentucky.

Officials say the students’ behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person. Church officials say they are investigating and will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.

A diocese in Kentucky is looking into videos that show youths, possibly from the diocese’s all-male high school, mocking Native Americans at the rally..

Laura Keener of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington said Saturday it regrets the incident and is investigating but didn’t comment further.