Blog written by Shawn M. Kahle, APR

In 1986, America fell in love with Hoosiers!  The movie, that is!  Today, May 6, 2008 all eyes are upon my home state as the political hotbed of the national Democrat presidential campaign – and this from a state traditionally known as Republican.  Hip, hip, hooray!

Candidly, it’s tough growing up a Hoosier.  And while there are many changes you can make in life, it is both illegal and ill-advised to try to officially “reposition” your place of birth.  Sure, you can share stories of international travel or acquire a big city address, but the fact is, if you were born in New Castle, Indiana you are indeed a Hoosier – forever!

There are certain characteristics that hold true for 99 percent of the Hoosiers you ever encounter.  Many possess strong work ethics with roll-up-your-sleeves determination.  They are matter-of-fact in character, not known for making life fancier than it needs to be unless they marry very, very well. 

Candidates Clinton and Obama certainly are campaigning with heartland, down-to-earth rhetoric peppering their stumps – with a little bit of favorite son Senator Evan Bayh and the king-of-all-things-cool-and-loving Stevie Wonder mixed in to rattle the otherwise basketball-crazed crowds.

What’s ironic about being a Hoosier is that no one really knows the origin of that wacky moniker. In fact, many tales are spun in the tapestry of Indiana’s official history stretching back as early as 1827. 

With such a storied history, I’m starting to believe my Hoosier ancestors also may be the inventors – or at least the early pioneers – of SPIN!  Consider these potential theories summarized by the Indiana Historical Bureau to the eternal question, “What is a Hoosier?”

·         When a visitor hailed a pioneer cabin in Indiana or knocked upon its door, the settler would respond, “Who’s yere?”

·         Indiana river men were so spectacularly successful in trouncing or “hushing” their adversaries in the brawling that was then common that they became known as “hushers,” and eventually Hoosiers.

·         There was once a contractor named Hoosier employed on the Louisville and Portland who preferred to hire laborers from Indiana. They were called “Hoosier’s men” and eventually all Indianans were called Hoosiers.

·         Poet James Whitcomb Riley claimed early settlers were vicious fighters who gouged, scratched and bit off noses and ears. This was so common that a settler coming into a tavern the morning after a fight and seeing an ear on the floor would touch it with his toe and casually ask, “Whose ear?”

I’m guessing after all of the Hoosier hoopla of the 2008 presidential election, there are a lot of Indianans who wish their ears were on the floor!

Yep, those candidates sure can talk the ears right off your spinning head!