Essay .................... Why North Carolinians Are Tar Heels A New Explanation by Bruce E. Baker The very embodiment of the modern nickname: Michael Jordan and Dean Smith, seen here at a UNC men's basketball game honoring the 1957 and 1982 men's basketball teams, February 10, 2007, by Zeke Smith, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0). orth Carolinians have long called themselves Tar Heels, and "Tar Heel" is a badge of pride--and, indeed, preeminence--in a variety of fields from scholarship to basketball. "Tar Heel" is but one of many nicknames for the residents of specific states. Tar Heels' southern neighbors are "Sandlappers," residents of Indiana are "Hoosiers," and Oklahomans are "Sooners." Some of these nicknames have simple explanations, while the origins of others are more obscure; very little is known about just why North Carolinians are called "Tar Heels." Common sense links it to the naval stores industry that dominated the eastern part of the state in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but there has been surprisingly little scholarship on the question. An analysis of printed material from the nineteenth century, however, reveals a complicated story that hinges on region and class, race and identity. What follows is a tentative
Southern Cultures – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Jan 31, 2015
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