Here is the Google view of “Indiana” or at least what you find in the first 10 pages of a Google search: Government, Facts & Statistics, Sports, Universities, Tourism, Economy, Issues, History, Arts, Organizations, Schools, Farms, Military (National Guard) and Religion.
After more than three decades working for a statewide organization, however, I tend to think about Indiana not in these categories but rather in terms of its counties.
Where I grew up, we weren’t really aware of counties. Los Angeles County has a population of just over 10 million people, so we felt about other counties in the same way people in California feel about other states – they’re out there somewhere.
Getting to know Indiana’s 92 counties, on the other hand, has been a true learning experience and great fun, too. I love the way highway signs tell you when you’re leaving one county and entering another. I love the way they all have courthouses and county seats. Most of all, I love the way Hoosiers identify themselves as being from a particular county. It’s an instant sort of recognition when people tell me they are from [name of town] and I say, “Oh, that’s in [name of] County, isn’t it?” It may seem like a parlor trick, but the odds are pretty good that I’ve driven through that county many times, trying to find a better way to get to Evansville.
More than that, though, it’s a pleasure to have a job that allows me to visit and reach out to people in all of Indiana’s counties with programs & resources that help them connect people, open minds and enrich lives – in the places where they are. It is so important that these towns and counties keep their sense of pride and history, their myriad claims to fame, and yet find new potential for growth and understanding as the world changes and so do they.
Let me take a moment to observe that November is Native American Heritage Month and that the name “Indiana” means “Land of the Indians.” The one lesson I have learned on this subject is that Indiana is still the land of American Indian tribes and peoples, that despite the tragedy of removal, they continue to live and fight for identity and recognition, right here in Indiana.
This blog is part of a blog series, All Good Things. The series, written by Nancy Conner, will run throughout the year to reflect on topics that have been central to our work at Indiana Humanities.