Native American claims racial harassment by EMU students dressed as indians

Nathan phillips says he walked over to the fence and saw roughly 30 to 40 students involved in a theme party. After trying to teach them about his culture, things he says, turned ugly.

An Ypsilanti man says he was trying to teach a few students dressed in American Indian theme party about respecting Native Americans.

Not long afterward, Nathan Phillips said that an interaction with party-goers and students turned ugly.

Nathan Phillips says he was out for a noon walk on a Saturday in mid-April.

He walked by a home where he saw Eastern Michigan University students dressed as Native Americans.

"They had little feathers on, I was just going to walk by," Phillips said. "A group of them said 'Come on over, come here.'"

He says he walked over to the fence and saw roughly 30 to 40 students involved in a theme party.

"They had their face painted," Phillips said. "I said what the heck is going on here. 'Oh we are honoring you.' I said no you are not honoring me."

It was a statement he says they took offense to.

"Then started whooping and hollering," he said. "I said that wasn't honoring, that was racist. Then at that time, it really got ugly."

Phillips says he was bombarded with racial slurs.

"(They said) 'Go back to the reservation, you blank indian,'" he said.

 One student, he says, threw a beer can at him.

"If I would have stayed where I was at, it would have hit me in the head," he said. "I backed up and it hit me in the chest."

 He had seen enough at that point and says he called the police.

"By the time police got there, it was like there was no party there at all," he said.

 Phillips filed a report with campus police who tell FOX 2 they are investigating the matter. 

FOX 2 stopped by the home in question. Someone came to the door, but didn't open up.

Why did Phillips go over to the fence?  Why not just walk away?

"For me just to walk by and have a blind eye to it," he said. "Something just didn't allow me to do it."

He claims this group referred to themselves as the Hurons, the former mascot at EMU at one time.

"The mascot issue at the university was changed 20 years ago," Phillips said. "That I'm dealing with it 20 years later ... There's a lot of hate behind that."

As for what should happen to the students he claimed harassed him, he hopes others can learn from this.

"Whoever would sit judgement on them, the university the law, society, that is their job," Phillips said. "I will pray for them that they will see a better way."

Eastern Michigan issued a statement that says the investigation is ongoing and they will comply with policies and procedures.

Some students say that doesn't go far enough.  They plan a news conference Wednesday to make sure this issue is not forgotten.

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