When the much-anticipated first two episodes of the FX on Hulu series Reservation Dogs dropped on Monday, it created buzz across the country — and a sense of pride and relief here in Wisconsin.
The limited series, created by Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) and Sterlin Harjo (The 1491s), follows four teenagers (Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs, D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Paulina Alexis and Lane Factor) living on a reservation in Oklahoma, hustling (sometimes legally, sometimes not) to save up enough money to escape to California. Mourning the loss of a friend, they find themselves confronted by a rival gang — strange, since they didn’t consider themselves a gang to begin with.
Written and directed by Indigenous people, the show depicts an authentic Indigenous experience without pausing to explain anything to non-native viewers.
Several members of the Ho-Chunk Nation responded to a social media post seeking reaction, which was universally positive.
“It felt good to see actual Indigenous representation written by Indigenous writers. Finally, our stories can be told,” Ho-Chunk Nation member Martie Simmons wrote. “Reservation Dogs is relatable to many of our upbringings so it’s endearing to identify with these Rez kids. There needs to be more stories like this in mainstream shows & films.”
“I enjoyed it for many reasons. It was great to see Indigenous people portraying Indigenous people in a not so stereotypical fashion for a change, and the humor and usage of slang was hilarious and familiar,” said Jon Thundercloud, a Ho-Chunk Nation member who now lives in Florida.
Zunker said she is still a member of the actor’s union SAG/AFTRA after working in the industry when she lived in Los Angeles.
“There is a lack of Native roles and stories which results in significant underrepresentation of Native talent in the industry. I recall so many of the breakdowns for Native roles would often be a stereotype (think along the lines of issues that exist with mascots), not actually reflective of present-day Indigenous folks. That changes with this series, and I hope this series is wildly successful because then we’ll see other stories that will be told (that’s Hollywood for you).”
Reservation Dogs is available exclusively on FX on Hulu, and requires a Hulu subscription, which starts at $5.99 per month. The first two episodes are online now, with new episodes becoming available every Monday through September 6.
This story was updated to include comments from Arvina Martin.