Government to begin calling Indiana residents Hoosiers

Government to begin calling Indiana residents Hoosiers
© Getty

Residents of Indianapolis and Gary and Kokomo will now be officially recognized by the federal government as Hoosiers, rather than Indianans, according to a new style guide released Thursday morning.

The Government Publishing Office will formally refer to residents of Indiana by what has been the common demonym for more than a century and a half. Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyWatchdog accuses pro-Kavanaugh group of sending illegal robotexts in 2018 Lobbying world Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (D) and former Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsThis week: Democrats churn toward next phase of impeachment fight 281 lobbyists have worked in Trump administration: report Former intelligence chief Coats rejoins law firm MORE (R), who retired at the end of the last Congress, asked the GPO to make the change last year.

“We aren’t achieving world peace here, but it’s nice to be recognized by the federal government as Hoosiers,” said Sen. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungOvernight Defense: Trump hosts Erdoğan at White House | Says Turkish leader has 'great relationship with the Kurds' | Highlights from first public impeachment hearing Overnight Defense: Protests at Trump's NYC Veterans Day speech | House Dems release Pentagon official's deposition transcript | Lawmakers ask Trump to rescind Erdogan invite Former AG Sessions enters Alabama Senate race MORE (R), who replaced Coats this year. “It’s not just a movie. It’s not just the nickname for IU athletics. It’s who we are.”


The GPO’s style guide serves as the basis for all government publications. That means that, in official documents from the White House to the lowliest backwater office, the federal government will now refer to Indiana residents by their chosen nickname, rather than as “Indianans,” a term few inside the state use.

There is some debate over who coined the term, though the Indiana Historical Bureau says it was popularized by poet John Finley, in his 1833 poem "The Hoosier’s Nest." A few months later, a former Indiana governor started a newspaper he called The Hoosier. Other authors used the term Hoosier in 1827, 1831 and 1832. 

“Whatever may have been the original acceptation of Hooshier [sic] this we know, that the people to whom it is now applied, are amongst the bravest, most intelligent, most enterprising, most magnanimous, and most democratic of the Great West, and should we ever feel disposed to quit the state in which we are now sojourning, our own noble Ohio, it will be to enroll ourselves as adopted citizens in the land of the ‘Hooshier,’” the Cincinnati Republican newspaper wrote in 1833.

There is more debate over the term’s origins: “Hoosier” might come from a common greeting offered by settlers to visitors, or from the fighting ability of Indiana rivermen, or from a contractor on the Louisville and Portland Canal. Former Gov. Joseph Wright thought the term came from the Native American word for corn, “hoosa.” Another theory, however apocryphal, holds that the term is short for “whose ear,” a question asked by early settlers after particularly nasty bar fights.

The GPO style guide has not made any similar accommodations for Bay Staters (“Massachusettsans,” in official documents) or Buckeyes (“Ohioans,” according to the GPO) or Nutmeggers (“Connecticutters”).