‘Stoodis!’ & ‘Skoden’ — ‘Reservation Dogs’ Puts NDN Slang in Focus

Posted By Jeanette Centeno October 4th, 2021 Last Updated on: March 2nd, 2022

The hit series “Reservation Dogs,” created by Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi, has accomplished something few other shows have: it's managed to introduce a mainstream audience to Native American culture without leaning on reductionist stereotypes. The show's mass appeal is undeniable but it still manages to “feel Native,” and it's prompting a wave of praise from critics and fans alike. Look no further than the show's use of Native American or “NDN” slang.

Words such as “Skoden” (Meaning “Let's go then!”) should resonate with the show's legion of indigenous fans. But while these words and phrases could present stumbling blocks for many of the show's Non-Native viewers, that hasn't stopped the writers from making something unapologetically NDN. And the show is better for it. 

As with most languages, slang terms are often unique to a specific generation, and in the case of Native slang, a specific reservation. The impact of slang words and phrases can tie a community together and form a part of its identity. While some words and expressions fade in time, others take on a life of their own.

Typically, slang origins can be traced back to a specific incident that yields a certain strand of colorful, informal speech. It reflects the attitudes of the people, groups, and subcultures of the community—and sometimes, the current political climate and pop culture. Languages—especially indigenous ones—are generally vibrant and expressive, which adds an extra flair to many words and phrases. The combination of cultures, current themes in the neighborhood, and lifestyles can yield some very amusing NDN slang terms.

Shows such as “Reservation Dogs” and “Rutherford Falls” along with the influence of other cultures and the internet, will likely only give these Indian slang terms and phrases new life.

Here are some NDN slang terms and definitions you may recognize, some of which you may have heard on “Reservation Dogs”:

All my relations: We are all connected (Lakota)

Ace: Cool

Auntie: May or may not be related, but respected female

Ayyyyyesss: A big sigh when something goes wrong

Apple: Red on the outside, white on the inside

Big Warrior: Taking the mantle of a warrior too seriously

Blank: Drunk

Blue Bling: Turquoise jewelry

Beesh: Looking ugly

Brah: Brother

Chooch: Immature male

Cousin/Cuz: Family relation

Chun D/Chun: Cigarette

Chebon: Man

Chuppa: Chubby or fat

Coconut: Brown on the outside, white on the inside

Crusty: Looking ugly or lame

Deadly: Excellent

Eeeee: Scary

Elder: Reserved for our older respected tribal members

Err: Really gross

Eversick: Attitude or funny

FBI: Acronym for full-blooded Indian

Feds: FBI

Frogskin: Money

Gah: You’re stupid

Gaga: Boogeyman

Get Ins: Hooking up

Half-off: Are you crazy? (Also, weird)

Haffer: Half-Native or Indian

Howah: Shocked/surprised

Head out: Just leave

Hunta: Hurry up

Howah: Wow

Ick: Gross

Imareala: BIA card-carrying jerk that brags about having a card and is rude to others who don’t

Indian Taco: Fry bread with anything you can find in the kitchen

Kaw: Really/not even

Medicine Man/Woman: A spiritual healer, herbalist or anyone who has undergone training to be a healer. Also called an Indian (NDN) doctor. 

Naaaayyy or Aaayyy: When something is funny

NDN: Abbreviation for Indian

NGE: An acronym for non-government enrolled

Ohee: So stupid, so ugly

Rez: Reservation

Rezzy: Defective or broke

Rez Dog: Abandoned reservation dogs or someone that is always in the Rez.

Rez boot: Mocassins

Rezzed Out: Done

Snag: Hooking up

Shacked up: Living together

Sav: Very ghetto

Squaybe: Getting drunk

Stiff: Drinking with friends

Supden: What’s up then

Skoden: Let’s go then

Stoodis: Let’s do this

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Treaty talk: White man’s lie

Uncle: May or may not be an immediate family member

Zee: When you reject someone

Zif: As if

Featured Image Credit: Jeremy Dennis of The New York Times — Devery Jacobs, D'Pharoah Woon-A-Tai, Paulina Alexis and Lane Factor, who star in “Reservation Dogs,” are photographed in New York, June 15, 2021.


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About Jeanette Centeno

Jeanette Centeno (Taíno) is a nurse with 18 years of experience, ranging from Spinal Cord Injury patients to case management. She is committed to advocating for adequate healthcare and proper intervention for all people. Centeno currently works at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, one of the leading acute care hospitals in treating Spinal Cord Injury.

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Might as: Might as well go then
Sgwe; awesome cool great
Tugay: penis
Miwasin: awesome
Aho: thank you

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