Until a few days ago, I had never heard the term “Hoosier”. Thanks to Matt Parrott, I am now not only familiar with the term, but I even have a historical grasp of its origins and its current meaning. In fact, after reading his book, “Hoosier Nation”, I almost wished I was a Hoosier myself. Parrot paints a loving portrait of his people in this book and, at the same time, encourages Hoosiers to embrace what they have left of their long-suffering, and battered, identity.
As I read the book, I found myself nodding in agreement time and time again. Confronted with the wisdom within its pages, I found it hard to believe that the author is barely 30 years old! For example:
… we have to lead the way. setting an example for other Americans to emulate in embracing their own heritage. We have to stop and reflect on our Hoosier identities, celebrating what we retain of our heritage and reviving what we’ve lost. If you pronounce “wash” as “worsh”, continue to do so. Embrace your Hoosier twang and resist the popular culture which equates our accent with inferiority…
Regular readers of this blog already know how I treasure linguistic distinctiveness. Retaining our own flavors of English (or whatever language) is not simply a symbolic statement of ethnic identity, but an affirmation of it with every word we utter. Parrott has taken a group of Americans, that is too often assumed to be without any real ethnic identity, and given them an identity – or rather, given them back their identity. Part of me wants to say that any true American is, at least partly, a Hoosier – but I won’t. Only a Hoosier can be a Hoosier, but to a certain degree, traditional America is an extension of the Hoosier nation.