The Detroit Free Press
Nov. 22, 2017
In the eyes of the state Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder, “Michigander” is now the official term for the residents of Michigan, and they have a bill that passed unanimously in both the House and Senate early this month to prove it. Snyder signed the measure Tuesday.
Tucked into an obscure package of bills that modernizes the 1913 statute creating the Michigan Historical Commission is a passage that strikes out a reference to Michiganians in favor of Michiganders.
The bill says the Historical Commission shall “encourage the public to preserve historic resources and to develop a sense of identity as Michiganders.” The initial reference to Michiganian is crossed out.
“We are Michiganders,” said Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, one of the sponsors of the package of bills. “I’m not sure where Michiganians are at, but we can be both.”
Former Govs. Jim Blanchard, John Engler and Jennifer Granholm favored Michiganian, but Gov. Rick Snyder prefers Michigander.
“I always say Michigander, but it’s a controversy that will never end,” said Bill Ballenger, a former state senator and editor of the Ballenger Report. “I remember way back decades ago, the Detroit Free Press ran a contest to settle the question and Michigander won. So now justice is done. The Legislature did the right thing.”
While the first use of Michigander to describe the residents of the Great Lakes State is unclear, it was used by then Illinois Congressman Abraham Lincoln in a speech that was meant to insult Michigan Gov. Lewis Cass, who was running for president at the time in 1848, according to the blog Mitten History.
Contact Kathleen Gray: 313-223-4430, email@example.com or on Twitter @michpoligal.