Indiana: One State, Three Regions?

October 17, 2008

It may be nearly impossible to think or write in these United States at mid-October without considering the colors “red” vs. “blue.” (One might wish this meant USC vs. UCLA, but alas no.) I have, however, been struck by the highlighting of our American regions during the current political contest. Every four years we become even more aware of the regional identity of places like the West Coast, New England, the Great Plains, and the South.

One of my favorite books on the topic of regions is The Nine Nations of North America, a best-seller by Joel Garreau, published in 1981. His research identified “the wildly different behaviors of people in the varying parts of our continent.” Often, these regions were bounded not by state lines but rather by economic-cultural-ecosystem divisions.

Garreau made a special point of mentioning Indiana’s capital, Indianapolis, as the meeting point of three of the nine nations: Dixie, The Breadbasket, and The Foundry. In our state’s history as a place settled by people from Kentucky and the Upland South, then turned into vast stretches of farmland, then built up with steel and auto manufacturing plants, we have a unique mix of differing identities and sensibilities, all of which may be seen along I-65.

Now comes the word that ground will be broken next week for the last segment of the Hoosier Heartland Corridor, a 4-lane highway connecting Lafayette and Fort Wayne (via Logansport, Peru, Wabash, and Huntington).  Miami County may yet become the Crossroads of (Northern) Indiana, as perhaps it was before people stopped traveling by river.

What we were, what we are.

This entry was posted by: Nancy

Blincoln Blog quick fact: Abe Lincoln’s family was one of those that came up from Kentucky, during the very month that Indiana entered the Union.

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