1. Believe that the KKK was formed here and that we’re all racists.
You’re imagining us spitting a large wad of tobackey out of our mouths and raising our rebel flags while riding evil-looking horses. Or something like that. I’ve heard this since I was young, and it has always pissed me off. My hometown is New Palestine, and our school mascot was The Dragons. The name supposedly came from the Red Dragon. You know — the leader of the KKK. The fact is, yes, there was a large KKK presence in Indiana years ago and there still is (to a lesser degree) to this day. But the vast majority of Hoosiers have no ties to the group and see it as a scar upon their state’s history. Another misconception — that the group was formed here — is not true at all. It formed in 1865 in Pulaski, Tennessee.
2. Use “Naptown” as a derogatory term.
I’ve heard way too many people claim, “Indianapolis is called Naptown because you’re behind on the times.” Anyone familiar with Indy’s history knows this term is actually tied to the 1930s jazz scene of the Circle City, one of the first and largest jazz scenes outside of New Orleans. IndiaNAPolis was deemed Naptown as a “hip” nickname for the city where jazz greats such as J.J. Johnson, David Baker, and Wes Montgomery were creating music.
3. “Isn’t it just a bunch of cornfields?”
No. Don’t get me started with this. Yes, there are cornfields. But there are also top-notch museums (the largest children’s museum in the world), historic monuments (the largest number in any US city outside of DC), remarkable breweries (Three Floyds in Munster has been voted the number one brewery worldwide more than once), and mouth-watering restaurants (Forbes rated St. Elmo’s one of “10 great classic restaurants well worth visiting”).
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, we have 24 state parks with over 280 miles of National Recreational Trails to hike, 452 lakes to go fishing, kayaking, or boating on, and we offer 15 miles of beach along Lake Michigan.
And sports fans are more than covered. Hoosiers and Rudy both take place in Indiana, for Christ’s sake. We hold the largest IndyCar race in the world — the Indianapolis 500. The Pacers are consistently one of the best teams in the NBA. The Colts are the pride of the state and can do no wrong, and Indianapolis, which hosted Super Bowl XLVI, is consistently rated the best Super Bowl venue of all time. Four of our colleges have been nationally ranked in different sports: I.U., Purdue, Notre Dame, and my alma mater, Butler. Go Dawgs!
So, yes, there is much, much more to this state than just cornfields. Even though I have to admit to playing hide and seek in them as a kid. I wouldn’t recommend it: it’s itchy as hell.
4. Talk smack about Peyton Manning / Reggie Miller / Bobby Knight.
Oh no you didn’t! Don’t talk down about them at all, ever. They are not to be trifled with. Okay, you can say Bobby is an asshole, but you can’t take away the fact that he basically won the triple crown of college basketball (the NIT title, the NCAA title, and an Olympic Gold medal) while at IU. Peyton may be hanging out in Denver selling pizzas to stoners and winning against the Colts (most of the time), but he is still a point of pride for this state and has a major presence in Indianapolis, including at the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital. Reggie, well, he is like our Michael Jordan, and unlike MJ, he never left our city.
5. Tell us Indiana has no impact on culture.
James Dean, John Mellencamp, Larry Bird, David Letterman, Johnny Appleseed (yes, he’s real), Jim Davis, Eli Lilly (thank him for those sexy pharm reps), Carole Lombard, Cole Porter (“Oysters down in Oyster Bay do it”), Madame C.J. Walker (the first self-made female millionaire), Kurt Vonnegut, and Michael Jackson along with the rest of the Jackson Five are all from Indiana.
Also, Honest Abe. You know, the president who brought freedom to our country? He was raised here too. Outside of these cultural icons, our state is continuing to be a cultural hub here in the Midwest and in the country as a whole.
6. Take away our ranch dressing!
Don’t you ever take away our ranch! Actually, bring some extra.