Among the Haudeonsaunee of Six Nations is a long standing debate over the word “bwoot”. Bwoot, for those of you who don’t know, is the rez word for poop.
Now without getting gross let’s actually talk about bwoot. Nobody is really sure how the bwoot word came to be. Some speculate it has historical connections. Others theorize bwoot’s etymology to be more practically linked to the mechanics of pooping. Either way – bwoot is definitely a word or thing that only exists because the Haudenosaunee do.
The first thing you need to know about bwoot is the way it is pronounced. This is always fun for a rez kids who get to teach this word to a non native friend. In fact, I would say teaching someone who isn’t indigenous how to properly pronounce bwoot is a modern right of passage for Six Nations youth. Nearly everyone says it wrong. It is pronounced like the word foot. Bwoot.
Next is the proper use of the word. It isn’t exactly a swear word but can almost be used like one. That’s what made it so perfect for free and liberal use among rez kids between the ages of five and 12. I can vividly remember calling people “bwoot heads” and feeling like I was getting away with something. You’d get a smack for saying the “s” word but the bwoot word was A-OK!
Man! We said the word bwoot a lot when we were kids! I can just hear my ‘cousints’ and me playing outside in the summer and teasing each other.
“Bleht! Stuboy stepped in dog bwoot!” This would often be followed by Stu taking off his dirty shoe and chasing us around the yard, threatening to touch us with a dog poop shoe.
Eventually someone would get caught and touched with the poop shoe, likely leading to them getting all ‘bwoot lipped’. That means pouting. It has nothing to do with poop. I don’t know why.
After graduating from rez childhood and through to adolescence one reaches the analytical phase of self-identification — who am I and where do I come from? Inevitably this leads rez teens from Six to the following question: how do you spell the word bwoot?
Now I am taking advantage of my position as a writer here to promote my version of the word’s spelling as b-w-o-o-t. However that is not canonized. Not in the least.
There have been great rez debates over the spelling of bwoot. Some insist it is simply ‘boot’. However, it has been argued that spelling does not respect the full sound of the word. Others say ‘buht’ or ‘budht’ which is an interesting incorporation of silent consonants that never quite caught on. It seems that silent consonants are too ‘bougie’ for the rez.
But the most common and generally accepted spelling for the term is ‘bwoot’. There’s just something about that ‘w’ that fully embraces the cheekiness and rebellion of the bwoot word.
Regardless of how you spell bwoot one must also learn proper contextual use of the word. It can be used in various forms of speech making it a multi-purpose rez word. As a noun – ‘Hey, there is some bwoot on the ground.’ As an adjective – ‘This is a bwooty song.’ Or as a verb – ‘Gerald is bwooting.’
So go ahead and embrace this fine part of our Haudenosaunee culture. Try saying bwoot to a scone next time you are down the bush. Or incorporate this fine multi purpose word into your vernacular, just for bwoots and giggles.