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After offending American Indians, Ralphie May backs Standing Rock

FARGO -- Ralphie May may have been on the naughty list earlier this year, but the comic has been trying to work his way onto the nice list lately. May got into hot water this spring when an audio clip from 2005, in which he perpetuated stereotype...

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Stand-up comic Ralphie May brings his White Trash Christmas show to the Fargo Theatre Saturday night. Special to The Forum.

FARGO - Ralphie May may have been on the naughty list earlier this year, but the comic has been trying to work his way onto the nice list lately.

May got into hot water this spring when an audio clip from 2005, in which he perpetuated stereotypes about American Indians drinking, resurfaced, creating an online firestorm. The controversy prompted the Sanford Center in Bemidji, Minn., to scrap his show there in April, though the entertainer said he would donate all of the revenue from that show to a charity.

A few days later May pulled the plug on the regional leg of the tour, postponing shows in Fargo, Sioux Falls, S.D., and Burnsville, Minn.

May is making good on his promise to return and brings his White Trash Christmas tour to the Fargo Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 10. The Sioux Falls and Burnsville dates have also been rescheduled, but not Bemidji.

At the time of the postponement, May said through a press release that he was doing so "out of respect for the Native American community and safety for all parties." He also stated he received death threats.

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"A video that surfaced on YouTube hurt and offended many people, and I am truly sorry," May said in the statement. "I thought I was a well-read, educated man. I know nothing. I'm a product of mass media and the U.S. public school system. I have learned so much this week, and I want to learn more. My eyes are open, and I hope to be a conduit for things that we are not taught."

May canceled a scheduled interview with The Forum on Tuesday afternoon, citing a lack of sleep while touring on his bus, so we were unable to ask him just what he learned from the incident and how his thinking has changed since.

Instead, questions were sent to May's publicist, Stacey Pokluda of SPPR Consultants, who said May has been working with organizations such as BICONA (Black Indian Confederacy of North America) and AIM (American Indian Movement).

She pointed out that May was part of the Rockin' the Rez fundraiser in October, which would help heat homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation this winter. In addition, she said all proceeds from the rescheduled Burnsville show on Wednesday, Dec. 14, would be donated to AIM headquarters.

"Originally, we were going to have the funds go towards supporting those at Standing Rock, possibly using it to build campsites, but in light of the Army Corps of Engineers' decision the other day to block the build, we will look elsewhere," Pokluda said, adding that they've been taking the advice of AIM and BICONA members.

An active Twitter user, May was excited about Sunday's announcement from the Army Corps of Engineers.

"I'm glad. Natives just saved our country. 28 million people's water is safer now. Thank you Sioux. Y'all are badasses," he tweeted on Sunday.

"This is the First Americans winning with the First Amendment. A lot of very brave people, I'm humbled as a man. Great victory at great cost," he stated Monday.

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If you go

What: Ralphie May

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, doors open at 7 p.m.

Where: Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway

Info: Tickets are $35, plus fees, show is for mature audiences. Available at jadepresents.com/ or by calling (866) 300-8300.

Related Topics: EVENTS
For 20 years John Lamb has covered art, entertainment and lifestyle stories in the area for The Forum.
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