“Indiana is the Hoosier State, inhabited by Hoosiers, whatever they may be,” reads in part an article that appeared in the March 13, 1875 issue of the British magazine Chambers’s Journal of Popular Literature, Science and Arts. (“American Nicknames,” 1875, p. 171) A century later, the philosopher Henry Babcock Veatch, an Indiana native, spoke at a symposium dinner honoring him. During his address, “Can philosophy Ever be a Thing for Hoosiers?” he remarked, “I can hear our chairman, Wilfried Ver Eecke, muttering to himself, ‘But who or what, in God’s name, is a Hoosier?’” (Veatch, 1983, p. 1)
Michael Wilkerson in his essay “Indiana Origin Stories” asks, “What in the world is a Hoosier?” (Wilkerson, 1989, p. 13) On the eve of Super Bowl XLI between the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts (Colts 29, Bears 17), Charles Leroux put the question in his Chicago Tribune article of January 30, 2007, “So, what the heck is a Hoosier?” They are not alone in their puzzlement, rhetorical or not. What, then, is a hoosier? Where did the word come from? Or as Mario Pei wondered, “Who first inflicted Hoosiers on the people of Indiana…?” (Pei, 1967, p. 131)
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