New bill settles it once and for all: We're Michiganders, not Michiganians


Text from Senate Bill No. 562. - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • Text from Senate Bill No. 562.
Are we Michiganders or Michiganians? The question has long ignited plenty of fierce debate, and there has never been official consensus on our state's official demonym. However, a bill headed to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk could put an end to the discussion.

Senate Bill No. 562 seeks to amend 1955 PA 10, also known as the "Governor John B. Swainson Michigan historical markers act," which is mostly concerned with tweaking the laws regarding applying for, selecting, and maintaining the state’s register of historic sites. It passed the House on Wednesday.

Notable to our purposes here, the language of the bill strikes the word "Michiganians" from the Senate version and declares that "'Michigander' means a resident of the state of Michigan."

It seems likely to pass; after all, Snyder is famously fond of using the term (while his predecessors Jennifer Granholm, John Engler, and Jim Blanchard all preferred "Michiganian").

However, there's a reason why many have refused to adopt "Michigander." The term was popularized after Abraham Lincoln hurled it as an insult against former Michigan Gov. Lewis Cass in 1848 while Cass was campaigning for president. It was apparently a portmanteau of "Michigan" and "gander," a male goose — basically, Lincoln was accusing Cass of riding the coattails of President Andrew Jackson, or so the interpretation goes.

But maybe it's time to stop fighting and just accept our true identities. After all, "Michigander" does roll off the tongue a little easier than "Michiganian." And it seems like most people agree: a 2011 poll found that 58 percent of people prefer "Michigander," while a 2015 MLive poll found that number to be 94 percent.

And anyway, as they say, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

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