When an Indiana Hoosier is Present, "Who's There" Anyway?


Like many other schools that have adopted their state’s nickname, Indiana University’s “Hoosier”
nickname reflects the namesake of its home state.  While the nickname selection process was a
natural occurrence, the actual definition of what the Hoosier nickname represents is still
The Hoosier term certainly has received vast exposure through the years. The Indiana Hoosier
basketball team has long been a household name in college basketball circles.  The Indianapolis
Colts play in the Hoosier Dome and Gene Hackman coached his high school basketball team to an
improbable state championship in the blockbuster movie Hoosiers.  Despite the common usage of
the word, it seems there have been more theories of its origin dribbled around by historians than
basketballs in Indiana.
One theory that was fostered by Indiana historian Howard Peckman, was that the nickname might
have resulted from the work performed by crew that was directed by either Samuel Hoosier or
Hoosher.  The men, most of which hailed from Indiana, were building a canal on the Ohio River in
1825 and were referred to as “Hoosier’s men.”
Perhaps the most popular “Hoosier” tales is the one that echoes a response to a knock on the
door.  Apparently when early Indiana settlers were alarmed by a knock on their cabin door, they
would respond with the question: “Who’s there?”  Eventually according to the theory, “Who’s
there,” evolved into “Hoosiers.”