I was reading the blurb on the book I’ve just started reading, Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, when I got a little surprise.
I read Kurt Vonnegut was born in India… and I thought, Hang on a second: he was born in India? I didn’t know that. I suppose it’s possible, even though there surely weren’t many Americans living in India in the early 20th century. Then I decided to actually read the rest of the sentence, and it all made sense. He was born, of course, in Indiana. But that got me thinking: Where does that name come from?
The obvious answer was that it was somehow related to Native Americans, or Indians. And that’s the case. The name simply means Indian Land, or Land of the Indians. In 1800, the US Congress divided the Northwest Territory into two, with the western area called Indiana, simply because it was still largely inhabited by Native Americans at the time.
The official name for an inhabitant of Indiana is, unsually, a hoosier. There’s some debate as to where this term comes from, but many experts suggest it comes from a term from the Upland South region of the United States for a backwoodsman, like yokel. Though I imagine that most hoosiers don’t mind.