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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, May 24, 2024

Hoosier Daddy

When the Hoosiers of Indiana come to Camp Randall this Saturday to do battle with our faithful Gridders, one thing's for sure: It will be a lonely day for one Buckingham U. Badger. 




Faced with the daunting task of trying to characterize a nickname as ambiguous as Hoosiers, Indiana comes to town this weekend mascotless and so, as a result, ol' Bucky will be forced to humor himself in other fashions. 




The subject brings rise to a pretty interesting question'just what is a Hoosier anyway? It is a topic that historians have debated and argued over for years to no avail. 




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When it boils down to it, it appears that no one really seems to know for sure. Being the curious individual I am though, I refused to accept this answer, and decided to do a little research of my own. 




My first step was to check out the main Indiana University Web site. Under a section they labeled 'Facts and Trivia' they had in boldface a subheading entitled 'Mascot.' The answer I received from this, however, was less than satisfying.  




'There is no school mascot,' it read. 'We're known as the Hoosiers.' From there I decided to move on to more viable publications and found that actually several different theories exist on the subject. I've decided to share with you some of the more interesting ones. 




The most serious and probably most credible explanation is that the term comes from the Old English word 'hoozer,' which means 'high hills.' The word was attached to hill dwellers and highlanders of southern England and it is believed they brought the name with them when they settled in the southern hills of Indiana. 




Less academic approaches to the word's origin vary greatly. 




One common theory dates back to the state's early years when settlers would supposedly answer a knock on their cabin door with the common response, 'Who's here'? Eventually this became shortened to 'Hoosier' and eventually Indiana became known as the Hoosier state. 




The flaw in this thinking, though, is that the scenario could have just as easily taken place at the cabin door of some settler in Ohio or Illinois as it could have in Indiana. 




Former Indiana Gov. Joseph Wright believed the word was derived from the American Indian word for corn, 'hoosa.' Indiana boatmen with the job of taking corn to New Orleans thus became known as 'hoosa men' or 'Hoosiers,' but this theory is easily discredited, as it cannot be proven that such a word actually exists in an American Indian language. 




Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley offers a more lighthearted explanation to this pressing question. Riley contends that the first inhabitants of the state were vicious and ferocious men whose scuffles would often end in eyes poked out and missing body parts on the floor.  




His claim is that the term originated when a stranger walked into an Indiana tavern one morning and upon kicking a piece of flesh out of his way, calmly asked the owner, 'Whose ear'? As entertaining as the notion is, I seem to have a hard time believing such ferocity could ever come from anyone claiming to be an Indiana resident. 




Determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, I finally decided to consult a trusted reference book. 




Webster's Third International Dictionary defines Hoosier to not only be a resident of the state of Indiana, but also 'an awkward, unhandy or unskilled person, especially an ignorant rustic' and 'to loaf on or botch a job.' 




I guess you just can't argue with fact. 




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